She is a goddess of wild places, especially the Celtic moorlands, the woods, and the heathlands. Seeking her out required going to these wild places and looking for her in every aspect of the wild lands. Elen is in the mist in the air and in the heartbeat of a tree.
The Story of Demeter and Her Daughter Persephone
The Greek goddess Demeter, the motherly goddess of harvest and agriculture, had a daughter with her brother Zeus
Why Ancient Greek Art Still Matters: A Comprehensive Study of Paganism in Art
. Many aspects of ancient Greek art are still evident in modern media, including statues of gods, goddesses, and even some of the minor deities that we never hear about today. There’s a reason why there’s still so much interest in these images after thousands of years: there’s more to them than meets the eye.
The Secret Life of Lilith
According to legend, Lilith was the first woman and Adam’s first wife. Unlike Eve, she was supposedly created from the earth, who was created from Adam’s rib. The story goes that God felt that Adam could not have complete dominion over women if his only companion were taken from him, so he created Eve from Adam’s rib to serve as his partner and equal in the Garden of Eden.
Artemis & Apollo: The Twin Children of Leto and Zeus
Are you on a Hellenic path? Do you work with either of these deities? We would like to hear about your experience in the comments.
The History of Witches in Britain
Though there are few surviving written records of the history of witches in Britain, we do know that witches were active in Britain during the Medieval period, and that belief in witches and witchcraft in Britain spans all the way back to antiquity. Prior to the infamous witch trials, witches in Britain were considered healers, herbalists, helpers of the community. Many people sought them out when they needed salves or potions to cure ailments. Before witches came to be associated with the devil in Britain’s modern period, people who practiced healing magic were called the Cunning Folk and were highly revered in society.
The Cunning Folk
The Cunning Folk in Britain were believed to have existed from the Middle Ages to the early 20th century. They were practitioners of folk magic – not to be confused with ceremonial magic – and often hired by the people in their towns for the purposes of healing, fortune-telling, love spells, finding lost objects and missing persons, catching criminals, and even aiding in fighting off bewitchments from ceremonial or ritual witchcraft practitioners.
Though today, we would still classify this practice as witchcraft, the Cunning Folk were often staunchly opposed to ceremonial witchcraft and were typically practicing Christians. As said above, they were healers, not hinderers – which is what they believed witches to be. According to Ronald Hutton, a British historian that specializes in British folklore, in his book, “The Triumph of the Moon,” the Cunning Folk were, “concerned not with the mysteries of the universe and the empowerment of the magus, so much as with practical remedies for specific problems.”
Laws Against Witchcraft
Due to his controversial English Reformation, in which King Henry VIII broke from the Catholic Church, many in Tudorian society believed that his shirking of Rome brought about anti-Christian forces, such as witchcraft. It was widely believed at the time that his religious reformation would cause witches in Britain to be able to cause the death of a monarch.
In an attempt to smooth over the controversy, Henry VIII enacted Britain’s very first law against witchcraft, called The Witchcraft Act, in 1542. This law stated that witchcraft was a crime punishable by death.
The Witchcraft Act eventually fell to disuse upon Henry’s death in 1547 and was only replaced 16 years later, by Elizabeth I’s Act Against Conjuring, Enchantments, and Witchcraft in 1563. This act established that causing harm or death to anyone by way of witchcraft was a capital offense.
Following Elizabeth I’s death, her successor, James I broadened her original law by making any act of witchcraft punishable by death. His law was entitled An Act Against Conjuration, Witchcraft, and Dealing With Evil and Wicked Spirits. It was during James I’s reign that the British witch hunts reached their peak.
Mother Waterhouse, the First Execution
Elizabeth I’s anti-witchcraft law claimed its first victim in 1566. Agnes Waterhouse, also called Mother Waterhouse, was the first woman to be executed for witchcraft in England. In 1566, in Chelmsford, Essex, England, three women were brought to trial for witchcraft. Elizabeth Francis was the first accused who admitted to practicing witchcraft taught to her by her grandmother, along with her familiar, a white cat named Satan. Elizabeth then told her accusers that she gave the cat to Agnes Waterhouse, and taught her witchcraft.
Agnes also admitted to having practiced, stating that Satan, the cat, spoke to her, and for a drop of her blood would do anything she wanted. She stated she used Satan to kill her neighbor’s livestock after an argument. She was also accused of killing a man by way of witchcraft but denied these claims. Next, Anges’ daughter, Joan Waterhouse, was also accused of using witchcraft to scare her neighbor, 12-year-old Agnes Brown, with a demon dog.
In the end, Joan was acquitted, Elizabeth was imprisoned but not executed (until 13 years later when she was tried again and finally executed), and Anges was executed by hanging.
The Witchfinder General
Matthew Hopkins, the famed “Witchfinder General” (though that title was never actually given by Parliament), was believed to have accused and executed more witches in his brutal 14-month reign of terror than any other witch hunter in the 160 years preceding him.
Between March of 1644 until the end of his terror in 1647, it’s said that Matthew Hopkins was responsible for over 100 executions of suspected witches.
Though torture was supposed to be outlawed in England at the time, this didn’t stop the infamous Witchfinder General from using torturous techniques to extract confessions from his prisoners. His preferred methods of getting confessions were trial by water, pricking, sleep deprivation, and the finding of a Devil’s or Witch’s Mark.
Trial by water was performed by tossing an accused witch into a body of water to see if she would sink or float. It was believed that the water represented baptism and since witches rejected their baptisms, the water would reject them. Thus, if they floated, it was proof that the water wouldn’t allow them to submerge, so they had to be witches.
To find a Witch’s Mark, women and men accused of witchcraft were shaved of all their body hair while Hopkins would search for any kind of mole, scar, or other skin imperfection, which he claimed would be the source of nutrition for a witch’s familiar. If no Witch’s Mark was found, Hopkins would claim that it was invisible, and so would resort to pricking. Pricking was the practice of using a knife or needle to poke at a suspected witch. If the person didn’t bleed – as was often the case because Hopkins tended to use dull or special needles – it was proof of witchery.
Hopkins retired from witch-hunting in 1647 after he, himself, was accused of witchcraft due to his unlawful methods of confession extraction and torture.
The Last Witch
Though the history of witches in Britain doesn’t end in 1727, the lawful executions of witches did. The last witch to be executed lawfully in Britain was Janet Horne.
In 1727, Janet Horne and her daughter were accused of witchcraft by their neighbors. Janet was in the stages of senility, and her daughter, whose name is not recorded, allegedly had deformations on her hands and feet. Thus, her neighbors accused Janet of riding her daughter like a horse, at night, to consort with the devil, which is why the daughter’s hands and feet were deformed.
The trial was quick and incredibly unjust, and the sheriff quickly decided both were guilty and would be executed by means of burning at the stake. Janet’s daughter, luckily, was able to escape, but Janet was stripped naked, covered in tar, and paraded through town before being burnt alive.
The history of witches in Britain is vast and lengthy. It cannot all be covered in a single article, so we chose to showcase what we deemed the most interesting or important parts. But the fact of the matter is, from antiquity to present times, Britain has an extensive and varied history with witches and witchcraft.
Things That Would Qualify You as a Witch in 1692
Witch hysteria began in Salem in January of 1692 when two young girls, Elizabeth Parris and Abigail Williams, fell ill. Betty, as Elizabeth was known, was the daughter of Reverend Samuel Parris, and Abigail was his niece. They had fits that included uncontrollable outbursts of screaming and violent bodily contortions. After a doctor couldn’t diagnose their illnesses, he told Reverend Parris that they had been the victims of witchcraft. Between January 1692 and the spring of 1693, over 150 people were accused of witchcraft, and 19 of them were hanged. When the hysteria was at its peak, almost anything could get you accused of being in league with the devil. Below, we’ll talk about some of the sillier things that would qualify you as a witch in 1692.
- Having a Vagina
Yes, simply being in possession of a vagina made you 80% more likely to be accused of witchcraft than someone without one. This was because it was believed that women were more susceptible to sin, and thus more susceptible to the devil’s trickery and temptations.
- Being Too Poor
If you sometimes have trouble supporting yourself and have to resort to asking your community or friends for help, you could have been a suspected witch in 1692. One of the first women hanged for witchcraft in Salem was Sarah Good, a poor woman who often begged her friends and neighbors for food, and was thus disliked and distrusted by the community. Due to this, they accused her of witchcraft.
- Being Too Rich
Are you self-made without the need of a man or family to help you financially? If yes, then you’re obviously a witch. In the 17th century, it was believed impossible for a woman to be financially comfortable – or even stable – without the help of a man, which meant she had to be in league with the devil.
- Having No Friends
Are you an introvert? BURN HER! BURN THE WITCH! Women who were shy or had trouble making friends were often accused of witchcraft because they were easy targets. With no one to stand up for them, the trials were a breeze, and off to Gallows Hill they were marched.
- Having Too Many Friends
On the flip side, if you are an extreme extrovert with a whole squad of awesome women surrounding you, you’re also a witch. The famed Witchfinder General, Matthew Hopkins, started this rumor after he happened upon a group of women chatting together and having a good time. He called them a coven and accused them of chanting incantations. They were executed.
- Being Too Old
Older women were an easy target for witch hysteria. Whether married or not, it was believed that only the work of the devil could help a woman get to an advanced age, and so seniors were often accused of witchery. Rebecca Nurse, a septuagenarian, with a husband, children, and many grandchildren, who was also a respected member of the community, was hanged for witchcraft because of her advanced age.
- Being Too Young
Are you starting to see a pattern here? Quite literally, no one was safe from the accusations of witchcraft in 17th century Salem. Dorothy Good, daughter of Sarah Good, was accused, at the ripe old age of four, of witchcraft. Her accusers claimed she bit them and attacked them like an animal. After being interrogated for two weeks, Dorothy broke down and admitted to whatever her accusers were saying. She was imprisoned for four months, an ordeal which left her with permanent and extreme psychological damage.
- Having Too Few/No Kids
Being married and having no or too few children was grounds for execution for witchcraft. The devil must have cursed you and your unholy womb with infertility. Additionally, if any of your neighbors who had a lot of children found themselves with problems, it was obviously because the childless crone next door had put a curse on them due to jealousy.
- Having Too Many Kids
Of course, on the other hand, if you had too many children, you were obviously performing witchcraft and stealing the babies that would have been born to the infertile couple next door.
- Being Kind to Animals
You better not let anyone see you cooing to the cute dog down the street, or petting the stray cat behind your house because everyone knows that people who are kind to animals are witches! Believing in the idea that all witches had familiars – animals that would help them in the devilry – this meant that any woman caught talking to or paying attention to an animal would automatically be assumed to be a witch and put on trial.
- Being Eccentric Or Loud
Talking to yourself, being different from the rest of society, or even being too loud and sassy was a surefire way to get you put on trial. Women in the 17th century were supposed to be quiet, calm, submissive, God-fearing Christians. If you displayed any kind of characteristic that went against these traits, you qualified as a witch.
- Being Able To Swim
The ability to swim was not as widespread in 1692 Salem as it is now. One of the reasons trial by water became so popular during witch trials was because it was believed that if a person, once dropped in water, was able to make it back to the surface, evil forces had to be at work.
- You Made Someone Angry
At the height of the Salem Witch Trials, people were accusing each other left and right. All it took was for you to upset someone, or make someone angry, or, in the case of Rebecca Nurse, accidentally bump into someone at church, and they would accuse you of witchcraft.
- You have birthmarks
Called the Witch’s Mark, any birthmark, or mole, or scar, or tiny skin imperfection you had was all it took for you to suddenly be a suspected witch. It was believed that through these Witch’s Marks, the witch would feed her family her blood.
- You Had Spoiled Dairy Products
During the Salem Witch Trials, something as simple as your butter or milk spoiling could qualify you as a witch. Essentially, anything out of the ordinary that happened in everyday life that the people of the time couldn’t understand was blamed on witchcraft, including spoiled dairy products. Several people claimed that their butter had gone bad in the presence of a witch on trial. This was considered evidence against her.
1692 was a dangerous time. Literally, anything could be misconstrued or misunderstood and that would automatically qualify them as a witch. To learn more about the witch trials, check out our blog about the weird tests they performed to prove someone was guilty of witchcraft in the 17th century.
How to Know If You’re a Witch
witches come in many shapes and sizes. Each person’s journey is different, and while some witches embrace the craft for a lifetime and beyond, others are only in it for a season. And that’s okay
Magick 101: How to Cast a Circle of Protection
Casting a circle before performing magick is an important part of spellwork, whether you’re trying to make your goals manifest or banish an evil spirit from your home. There are many different techniques for casting circles, but they all serve the same basic purpose of creating an area free from the negative energies of the outside world that allow you to focus on your spell work undisturbed. If you’re looking to begin practicing magick, knowing how to cast a circle of protection will help give you confidence and make it easier to perform spells effectively and safely. Here’s how to do it!
Tools you will need:
Candles: White can work in a pinch, but colors representing the elements work best.
Green – Earth
Yellow – Air
Red or Brown – Fire
Blue – Water
Earth – jasper, moss agate, onyx, aventurine, black tourmaline
Air – opal, aventurine, citrine, tiger’s eye, turquoise
Fire – amber, fire opal, fire agate, carnelian, sunstone
Water – amethyst, aquamarine, pink tourmaline, lapis lazuli, coral
Something to cast the circle with: an athame, chalk, salt, smudge stick, earth-charged water, paint, rope, etc.
1) Prepping your space
With all of your tools set out, stand in front of them and visualize what you want your finished product (your circle) to look like. Close your eyes, take three deep breaths and make sure you really see it in your mind’s eye before opening them back up. You can even draw out what you want it to look like if that helps. Once you have an image clear in your head, grab one of your tools—it doesn’t matter which one—and start drawing it where you’d like on the floor or on some other surface that will be safe for paint or chalk. When you’re done with that, add another tool and keep going until you fill up your space.
2) Drawing your circle
The purpose of casting a circle is twofold—protection and focus. For protection, it’s important that you create an unbroken space around yourself. This means drawing your circle in one continuous motion. If you stop, even for just a moment, you break your circle and invite outside energies into your protected space. If all else fails, use physical barriers like salt or chalk (or rope for very large circles) to form your perimeter. Remember, when casting your circle, it is important to do so while walking deosil (clockwise) around the perimeter of your circle. To release the circle after your spellwork is done, walk widdershins (anti-clockwise) three times around the perimeter.
3) Invoking energy
To start, you must be open and receptive to new energy. To do so, take some deep breaths while focusing on your chakras. Start with your root chakra (near your tailbone) and draw energy from there up through your sacral chakra, solar plexus chakra, heart chakra, throat chakra, and third eye chakra, until you reach your crown chakra at the top of your head. If something feels wrong, stop and take more deep breaths until it feels right again.
4) Verbalizing the ritual
First, give an overview of what you’re about to do. This is basically telling your audience (whether it be yourself or actual people) that you are about to perform magick. Focus on safety, protection, and asking for blessing from whatever deities/spirits/guardian angels you believe in; ask these forces for protection during your rite. You can make up your own blessings or say something easy and non-denominational, if you’re just beginning, such as “Elements/Spirits of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, I call on thee together. Attend my rite and protect and consecrate my circle, above, below, and within.”
Who Were the Gods and Goddesses of the Greek Pantheon?
Greek mythology has given us many of the most enduring figures in Western culture, from Zeus and his wife Hera to the tragic figure of Prometheus. But who were these Gods and Goddesses? How did they rise to power? This list of the most important deities in the Greek pantheon will help you understand their power, personality, and divine responsibilities.