In case you don’t know, I am currently embarking on my biggest writing project thus far: my debut poetry pamphlet, which will be completed in September of 2020. It is a series of 22 poems following the Major Arcana of the Tarot.
I have read tarot for six years, both for myself, friends and as a small business and what I love about it most is how there is a card for every single emotion or situation that we deal with as humans. They perfectly reflect the human condition, something that I aim to do within my poetry, which is why it seemed to make absolute sense to use this as a framework for my collection.
Within my poetry, I am exploring what it means to be a woman, and particularly being a 21st Century witch. So many women are turning to the craft, and more people are practising magic than ever before. I love the idea of reclaiming something that was used as a tool to harm women, an insult to those of us who are seen as mean, ugly or otherwise ‘bad.’ I also like the idea of this reclamation of female power, of female knowledge and inheritance passed, purposefully or not, through the generations.
My poetry centres around my own life experiences, mixed with a healthy dose of magic, folklore and history (plus a side of gore). So if that sounds like something you would be interested in, follow this blog or my Instagram @rgwoodwitch, for updates.
All my love,
R G Wood
I would like to give a disclaimer that witchcraft and the label ‘Witch’ are not exclusive to women, but ‘women and the occult’ is my area of focus for this collection.
I have been meaning to read Beth Underdown’s debut novel, The Witch Finder’s Sister, since I saw her in conversation with Katherine Clements at the Bronte Parsonage Museum for Emily Bronte’s bicentenary in 2018. I was working there on the book stall, and in typical ‘me’ fashion, when all the books wouldn’t fit in the the small cardboard box I had to transport them to the venue, I solved the issue by buying the excess. The Witch Finder’s Sister was among them. Now, don’t think that I only bought it for logistical purposes, I rather think that was just a convenient excuse. So, the book sat on my shelf for a while, giving me the side eye until finally I picked it up.
The novel is written in a diary style, something which I personally enjoy, from the point of view of Alice Hopkins, Witchfinder General Matthew Hopkins’ fictional sister. She has been locked up and is passing the time by documenting what happened in the events leading to her incarceration. Gripping to say the least.
Underdown’s writing style is a perfect mixture of easy to read, but beautifully written, it is true enough to the period that it is immersive, yet you can easily glide through it. The way that the events develop is eerie, as it begins with hints as to Matthew’s intentions, but by the time that Alice realises the full scale of his intent, it is too late. Things have been set in motion that cannot be undone.
All throughout the novel we are wondering why and how Alice Hopkins came to be locked up. The payoff happens fairly late in the story, and as suddenly for her as it would for those accused. (I shall say no more.)
In the front and back of the book Underdown has included a list of names of all the women accused and killed in the real witch trials, many of whom are included as characters within the novel. This really brings home the fact that this did happen, and when the details of Hopkins’ witch finding methods are described, it makes for an even more chilling read.
I think that Beth Underdown has done real justice to those accused with this book. It is handled sensitively, but truthfully. It doesn’t glamourize the accused or demean them. It is, as the witch trials were, horrifying, haunting, and worst of all, real.
This book is by far the most beautiful book I have ever owned, I can’t get over the quality of it and the amount of information it contains is staggering considering I really bought it for the beautiful photographs. It is also much bigger than it appears on photos. It is a perfect addition to my coffee table. I will do an in depth review once I have read it all. -R G WOOD )0(
I find that within New-Age/ Witchy places, people are selling the goal of happiness, as if it is something that we should constantly be striving for and that if we do this, this and this, we will be happy, and everything will be great.
This is not how it works. There is ALWAYS going to be something else that we would like, most of us are never in a state where there is nothing we would like to achieve, nowhere we would like to go, or a new project to complete. But, the goal is to be content despite that, know that the only thing guaranteed in life is change, and come to terms with it.
Two years ago, I would have thought that in my current situation, I would be happy, over the moon. But I am dealing with mental health issues, and always will, and my physical health symptoms have flared up, meaning that my employment situation is critical. However, I am still choosing to be content, and to look on it as an opportunity no matter how difficult that might be. I have off days, hell, I’m having one now, but I think remaining in the knowledge that you can survive anything can help to take the weight off of your shoulders somewhat, as can letting go of the guilty feeling of not being constantly head-in-the-clouds, high-on-life ecstatic every waking moment.
The Daughter of Swords in the Wild Unknown deck is the equivalent of the Page of Swords in a traditional deck. The page symbolises entering a state of higher learning and the suit of swords, linked to air, symbolised thoughts, knowledge, your own beliefs and truth. A perfect card to symbolise embarking upon your witchcraft journey.
This article is primarily for people just beginning to get interested in the craft. It can be quite scary and overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin, when you are being pulled towards something as big as witchcraft. Hopefully I am able to shed some light and make this a time of enlightenment and discovery.My first piece of advice is to research. The most common method is, of course, to read books. There are lots out there, of varying levels of difficulty. Try to read books that aren’t just someone giving their opinion as fact. I truly believe that you should do what feels right for you, no one can tell you what is going to work and what isn’t. Of course, there are some essentials that need to happen for spells to work, such as concentration and visualisation, but all of these things come from within you. Look for general books that give advice and read a range. Don’t just read books on Wicca if you don’t know that that is your path, don’t read something as specific as tree magic and assume you know all there is to know about magic as a whole. There is a lot of difference within paths, so don’t read one specific point of view and take it as gospel, read a range so you can work out what options there are and find something that works for and resonates with you.
If you find books too intimidating, there is always the internet. So many people are talking about witchcraft and different belief systems, there are short videos on so many different topics which are perfect to help you get a feel fora specific belief system or practice, which will save you a lot of time and give you a broad rang of information. From there, you can pick and choose what resonates with you and what you would like to pursue further.
Put little things into practice to see how you feel when you’re doing it. You do not need to pick a specific path, feel free to pick and choose, change what you identify as, incorporate bits from another path into your own, or be completely eclectic and just do you. Don’t worry about doing a fully fledged ritual at this stage if it intimidates you, you could simply go for a walk, collect a fallen branch or a pebble, and have it as the start of your altar. You don’t have to go crazy, be creative as you like. Don’t stress yourself out about it because witchcraft is meant to be enriching, not stressful.
Don’t be too rigid when you are starting out. If you are doing spell work, feel free to substitute things like incenses and oils for whatever you have. Don’t spend loads of money if you don’t know if this is the right path for you, you can do any spell with what you have in your house right now. If you want to create an altar, instead of buying expensive statues, you could paint pictures to go around your altar space. Creating art is such a good way of connecting with deities and other correspondences, and if you have the tools already, it is cheap! Get DIY about it rather than spending money especially when you are starting out, and have fun!
See if there are any local pagan groups in your area, meeting with other people is great for getting an understanding of different belief systems and feeling less alone. If there just aren’t any, try online! Join Facebook groups like the very active Hedgewitchery where you can ask questions, discuss matters and actually talk to other witches online.
Listen to your heart. Lots of people say this or that is the right way, but it is all personal opinion. If something feels right, just do it. The worst thing that is going to happen is that your spell won’t work, read my post on successful spellcasting for tips on how to avoid this.
My final piece of advice is just do it, especially if you have been sitting on this a long time without taking the plunge, just do it. it can be something small, light a candle and write something that you want to banish from your life on a piece of paper and burn it while visualising.
The first thing that you will want to do when preparing to cast a spell is to ground yourself. Get yourself comfy at your altar space, sit there quietly for a few minutes and do some visualisation. Imagine light within you, from your head/heart/ pelvis stretching through you, through the floor and connecting to the world like roots, bringing yourself literally down to earth, becoming one with the universe.
Then you will want to meditate for a while, you don’t want to carry baggage from the day into the ritual, you want to get into that space between worlds and relax, get into the zone, feel the vibes. Meditate until you feel ready, it might take a couple of minutes or a good half an hour. This is an important step to get you into the mindset for spellcraft, you need to be able to focus all your energy on the spell.
You might like to cast a circle. To do this, you can use a wand, wood or crystal, an athame, or you can just use your finger. Point in a circle around your ritual space and imagine a protective light coming from your finger/ tool in a full circle encompassing the ritual space. This protects you from unwanted energies to take worry out of your mind, you don’t worry something is going to come and get you, you are creating a safe space for the ritual to take place. You might like to say a few words and invite in certain things like the elements, your ancestors, the mother, deities, spirit guides, animal archetypes, angels, even fictional deities if they will aid your work. This will depend on what spell you want to do, and is very personal. Ask them to be present and aid your spiritual work. Remember to release the circle afterwards by going the opposite way around the circle and imagine the light reentering, and thank whoever was there.
Another tip is to think about correspondences. if you are doing a spell from a book they will have probably told you what correspondences to use. However, don’t be too rigid, you don’t need every single specific correspondence that they list, I truly believe that you have everything in your house necessary to do any spell, correspondences are to help you, their energies aid you but they are also a tool to get you into the right mindset, so if you are told that you need 5 things and you only have two, that is fine. You can also swap things out. For example, if you need cedarwood because it is an earthy scent but you only have another earthy scent, and you feel that it will work in the spell, use that. Don’t spend a fortune on unnecessary things.
So, correspondences include: scents, incenses oils crystals, candles, colours, time of day, time of year moon phase etc. This is personal, so have fun and experiment, there is no rule book despite what people say.
I write my own spells. If you are using a pre-written spell, make sure that it resonates with you. When you write yourself you put much more thought into each word, I could read an entire page and not take a word of it in, but if I write a paragraph I know what it says, you have to pay attention.
As you’re performing the spell you will want to visualise the outcome, this is a massive part of the magic. Do this for as long as possible, until you feel like you have come to a natural end, seen everything that you want to have seen, you’ve done enough. See everything that you want from the spell, and really feel it. Read the spell as many times as you like. When you visualise, don’t just think ‘it would be nice if I had more money,’ think about how you will get it, how it will make you feel and feel it as if it is happening, and ask the universe to make it so.
Sit quietly after you have performed your spell then thank everyone for witnessing it. Open your eyes if they were closed during visualisation, snuff out the candles, release the circle and enter back into the mundane realm. It may be useful to you to have specific steps in a specific order that you follow every time. Food is a very grounding thing and is good to bring you back from the mystical realm back to the real world, so have something to eat and drink for when you want to come back around.
Something often neglected is spell aftercare. Some spells are ongoing so obviously they will have to be continually redone or topped up in some way. However, if you have asked for money you cant just ask and sit back and expect it to happen, you need to put in the work and meet the universe half way. Don’t be a spoiled child, you need to deserve it. Put the effort in, ultimately it comes from you. Look for new jobs and because you have done the spell you may get an interview, or you wont but you will get one the next week, but give the universe a helping hand.
My final tip is to write things down! We often think that we will remember when a spell works or makes us feel great, or that thing we did that resonated with us, but in reality, we are human, and we forget. Writing things down is a great way of keeping track and is wonderful to look back on and see how far you have come.
I hope that you found this helpful, stay wild, and I will speak to you in my next post XO
I want to be clear before I delve into this post that I don’t believe that you are either born a witch or you are not. I do believe that some people are more inclined to follow a witchy or pagan path, but I honestly believe that everyone has the power within them to be a witch, should they want to be. This post is designed to show if witchcraft would be something that would enrich your life. That being said, let’s get into it.
You love nature. Witches are heavily associated with nature, and for good reason. most witches see nature as somewhat divine and worship or work with it in some way. Therefore, if you see trees, flowers, the ocean or feel a breeze you have a deeper sense of connection, like there is something more there. Perhaps when you spend too much time away from nature your quality of life changes. I get depressed when I am away from nature so when i was trying to find my house, the number one priority was views of trees. The weather may also change your moods, you may feel happy in the sun, you might feel heightened energy and excitement in a thunderstorm. You might also feel the turning of the year, maybe in the spring you focus on new projects and goals, and you tend to bed down in winter. These are all signs that you could be a witch.
You have a deep connection with your senses. If you smell cedarwood you imagine yourself in the middle of a beautiful forest, sounds bring back vivid memories and you have a deep connection to people’s feelings and great empathy. If you have a very high sensory perception, you could be a witch.
You feel a deep sense of connection to the world as a whole. This includes animals, humans and the further universe. You feel that you are connected to everyone and everything spanning the entire ends of creation. You feel that you can manipulate those things, when you look at the night sky you connect to the sun moon and stars, and know that we are all part of something bigger.
You have a deep belief in yourself. You don’t have to be really outgoing and self confident but you do have to have an intrinsic belief in yourself. You have to believe that you have the power to change things even if you haven’t harnessed it yet, it is easy to be self deprecating, it isn’t easy to stand up and say that you can do it. Take it from me, you do have the power, you just need to believe in it.
You are drawn to witchcraft. You feel pulled towards it, you maybe love watching videos and films about it, you may just have a curiosity, and that is probably why you clicked on this blog post. This is the biggest giveaway that you should give it a go and that it will enrich your life. If you have the inherent need within your heart to pursue witchcraft you could have none of the other four points and still be a witch, so get on with it.
What to do now:
Do a bit of research, spend time in nature, take in the senses, whisper to the universe, just do something. It doesn’t have to be a big showy ritual, don’t be overwhelmed, just start on your witchcraft journey and let yourself have fun!
Basically speaking, a real witch is someone who practices witchcraft. This is, someone who uses the energy of the universe to manipulate it to create a desired outcome, usually done by spellwork. Spellwork includes all or some of: using words, herbs, colours, crystals. These correspondences are powerful and aid whatever spell you are trying to do. e.g a spell for self love would probably include a red candle, rose quartz and maybe some rose incense and essential oil to put on my body and write out a spell that spoke to what it was I was trying to do. The bulk of the magic comes from within you, while you visualise what you are doing with your spell.
Most witches have a deep connection with nature and see it as divine in some way. You can have witches from all sorts of different religions and even athiest witches. However, modern witches usually see nature as some kind of divine force.
Witchcraft can also be thought of as a kind of self programming. As well as manipulating the energies of the universe, the correspondences will alter your internal mindset. For example, with the self love spell, the repeating of the mantra along with the correspondences can change your internal thought processes on an unconscious level.
Some witches worship a mother earth figure, and some work with deity, e.g. Roman, Greek Norse, African deities. Some pick and choose between them, some work with a specific pantheon, some work with just one and some work with none. Some also work with animal archetypes, spirit guides, angel guides and ancestors.
Witchcraft and paganism gets mixed up. A pagan isn’t necessarily a witch, and a witch doesn’t have to be pagan, but they usually are. In a nutshell, witchcraft tends to be what you do and paganism tends to be what you believe, the tradition you follow, deities you worship and what is in your heart.
Now I will talk about what witches are not- we are not in any way evil. Now, in any group of people you will get ‘bad’ ones, but it is not an inherent quality of witches. Most of us just have baths with essential oils and repeat mantras to ourselves, it’s not that freaky.
It is nothing like you see in the movies, we are not delusional people who believe that you can wave a magic wand and because we were born a certain way someone will turn into a frog.
And the biggie- WE DON’T WORSHIP THE DEVIL. No witch I know even believes in the christian devil.
In my opinion, if you cast spells, you are a witch. However it is entirely up to you what you identify as, if you cast spells and don’t want to call yourself a witch that is completely fine, and if you don’t cast spells but you feel a deep connection to nature and feel that you are a witch, I am not the one to stop you from using the title, you do you, explore, and have fun.