A couple of weekends ago I drove down to Exeter to see my friend Kizzy, who is not only one of my closest friends but also a witch and a Wiccan-influenced pagan of fifteen years standing. We did all the usual things we do when we see each other – lots of talking, the watching of many things on Netflix and YouTube (Antonio Banderas as the Phantom!), and staying up till the small hours of the morning while doing so. However, this time we also did magic.
Now, I don’t consider what I do in ritual to be magic, although from an outside perspective I grant you it probably looks no different to what I’m guessing pretty much every Witch and Pagan would call magic. I think the main reason for this is that I can’t feel energy; for example, I’ve handed a sachet I’d made during a ritual in circle to two pagan friends of mine at different times, and they gave me nearly identical answers when I asked what the energy felt like. Me? Felt no different than when I’m holding a box of tissues or a jar of jam.
Scott Cunningham in ‘Wicca: A Guide For The Solitary Practitioner’ defines magic as ‘the projection of natural energies to produce needed effects’, but with my inability to sense energy I just can’t see what I do as magic. Instead, I view it in the same way the Church describes Sacraments: ‘an outward and visible sign of an inward and spiritual grace’, that is, symbolic actions that provide a physical way of helping to focus my mind for prayer and meditation.
I admit it may look like I’m splitting hairs here, but while I occasionally refer to what I do as spellwork and will freely admit that I seem to be able to put power/energy into things, I honestly don’t feel I’m putting the magic into ‘magic spell’. However, Kizzy does do magic, and as she was leading the ritual and did most of the work I feel justified in saying ‘we did magic’.
Because Kizzy’s been dealing with a fair amount of crap over the past few months, what with huge amounts of stress at work adding to the problems caused by her former housemate suddenly moving out seven months ago, I recently bought her a surprise present consisting of a hope bath spell, a luck-reversing bottle spell, and ‘relaxing’ incense sticks. The incense got opened pretty much immediately, but as Kizzy currently works six days a week and ends up having to stay late most weekdays she hadn’t got round to using the spell kits by the time I came to visit.
I didn’t arrive in Exeter till the early afternoon as I had to deal with buying a new bathroom for my flat, but I was in time to meet Kizzy for her lunch break to sort out my becoming guarantor for her rent (the main reason for me visiting that particular weekend), and then had a couple of hours to kill before she finished work for the day which I used to go shopping. I knew I wanted to buy her a couple of Crystal Journey candles, and I knew there was a pagan shop in town (whose name I honestly can’t remember) that sold a selection of their votives, so I was hoping they would stock the ones I wanted. Thankfully they did, and I purchased an Abunance and a Good Health votive (as, like me, she’s wound up with clinical depression) along with glass holders to go with. Then I headed back to meet Kizzy via Patisserie Valerie and Waterstones, followed by an evening of Indian take-out consumption and Farscape watching with a friend of mine from uni who now also lives in Exeter.
After we’d done some necessary housework and shopping on Sunday though, the magic began. I’d led our Litha ritual last year, and as most of the ritual work was focusssed on her, we agreed that Kizzy leading would be best, plus I didn’t have any of my tools with me. So while Kizzy cleared the coffee table I fetched the chest she keeps her magical and ritual things, and filled the chalice with water while she set up the altar.
Kizzy will freely admit that she’s not done any spell or ritual work since last year’s Litha and very little religious work past honouring the moon, so she kept this ritual low-key. While I sat on the floor next to the table she cast circle using a form she’d quickly looked up on the internet as she couldn’t remember her usual casting. I don’t remember the exact words, but she walked clockwise round the table (and me) four times with her wand calling on each element in turn, then calling on the God and Goddess with another turn around the table. After that we settled down to the spellwork. The first was Pagan Dreams’ spell for luck reversal, during which Kizzy used the black and white candles and the tiny bottle on a string. She also changed the Goddess statues around when she changed the candles, while my participation in this part was confined to meditation and prayer (the Christo part of my religion kicking in) while she charged the bottle.
The next spell we did I can describe in detail, as it’s one we made up ourselves. Kizzy suggested we buy each other lottery tickets when we went shopping and put them underneath the Abundance candle I bought, while I suggested carving symbols into it. I also wanted to try and see if I could pull up Earth energy to put into the candle, as I’ve come to the realisation recently that my personality is more Earth than anything else.
First we took the candle out of the holder for carving – Kizzy drew a house on one side then I drew a pound sign on the other. Because the Crystal Journey candles are so full of essential oils they’re a lot softer than most candles and take carving really well. We used the silver pointy implement shown above to do the carving, which when not being pressed into magical use is what Kizzy uses to clean under her nails with.
Then we put the candle back in the holder, and prepared to charge it. Kizzy cupped her hands round the candle, and I put my left hand over hers. My right I placed flat on the floor with my fingers spread and thought my way down through the carpet, underlay, floorboards, and foundations of the house to the earth below. I then imagined pushing my fingers into the soil, the tips growing out like roots, with my left hand growing leaves and being like an open flower. I then imagined Earth energy being drawn up through my right arm with every inhalation, swirling around my lungs, and then being pushed down my left arm and out through my left hand when I exhaled. After a couple of minutes I stopped and opened my eyes, and Kizzy placed the candle back on the altar on top of our lottery tickets and lit it. We then recited the affirmation together that came with the candle and watched the flame for a while before Kizzy closed the circle.
As ever, I felt absolutely nothing while I attempted to channel Earth energy, but when I asked Kizzy about it afterwards she said that she could feel it building up in my left hand. She had originally thought to just let the energy pass through her into the candle, but she told me that all she could sense was the pressure of the energy building up with nowhere to go until she thought to channel it into her receptive hand, through her centre, and out through her projective hand. After that, she said that the candle and its holder got so hot that she was amazed the candle didn’t end up lighting itself. Again, I was oblivious to all of this, although I did notice that the insides of the holder had steamed up where there was a gap between the candle and the glass.
With Kizzy being righthanded and me being lefthanded, there was one thing I noticed that I’d never thought of before. When casting circle myself, I hold my wand etc. in my left hand (which, as my dominant hand, is considered to be projective) and move clockwise. When Kizzy casts she holds her wand in her right hand, but has to hold her arm across her body in order to walk clockwise in order to create a circle with her on the inside. It seems being lefthanded is an advantage in my religious practice as well as when I’m swordfighting. Who’d have thought?