Firstly, You must understand the DIFFERENCE between Magick and Magic.
Source: Wikipedia - "https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Magick_(Thelema)
“Magick, in the context of Aleister Crowley's ‘Thelema’, is a term used
to show and differentiate the
performance magic, and is defined as ‘the Science and Art of
causing Change to occur in conformity with Will’, including ‘mundane’ acts
of will as well as ritual magic. Crowley wrote that ‘it is theoretically
possible to cause in any object any change of which that object is capable
Crowley saw Magick as the essential method for a person to reach true
understanding of the self and to act according to one's true will, which
he saw as the reconciliation ‘between freewill and destiny’. Crowley describes
this process in his ‘Magick, Book 4’ “
When practicing magick the mind needs to make an impending shift. To facilitate
this shift, a large variety of occultic tools are used. These include robes,
athame (a ceremonial blade, preferably with a black handle), swords, candles,
incense, masks, staffs, wands, ritual jewellery, pentacles and altars.
Most practitioners, whether Wiccan or magician, will have the tools described
Most practitioners have an altar of sorts at home. Some have a dedicated
room in their home; others have a small, dedicated space. A small number
use an outside room. All practitioners are different, and their altars
may be elaborate or simple.
Some may represent their deity with natural elements such as a pine cone
(representing the God) or a shell (representing the Goddess); others may
use statues (to represent particular gods and goddesses, such as Shiva
or Kali). Some may have ‘dark’ altars, and use bones, for example, to represent
the shadow side; others represent the joyous celebratory side with flowers
Some use male symbols of power (knives and swords); others do not. Some
altars are set up on a permanent basis; others are set up only when a ritual
is about to be performed. I know some practitioners who have even set up
mini-altars at work, where they burn incense and a candle, without any
Most traditions have a robe of a particular colour. Some traditions have
different robes that signify different degrees. Most robes are hooded,
and should be made of a natural fibre. As with all working tools, they
should be made by the owner's own hand (but as with most working tools,
we tend to buy them).
Since the robe is used for ritual work, it should be kept in a special
place. Then the mere act of removing it ensures a subtle shift in consciousness,
a preparation for something that is about to happen.
The individual can decide how elaborate the robe should be. Working as
a solitary also requires a robe. Again, the act of robing readies the practitioner
for a change in the ordinary environment.
This is particular to Craft work and symbolises the witch’s bond to the
Goddess. Natural fibre such as cotton, silk or wool is usually used. As
with the robe, cords may signify rank. They are also used in binding rituals
and knot magick.
It’s probably true to say that all practitioners, Craft or otherwise,
have consecrated jewellery of sorts. It may be a reflection of the tradition
they practise, or it may be something inspired and created by the wearer,
having deep personal symbolism.
Candles, Incense and Anointing Oil
Colour and smell are used as a subliminal trigger. There are no hard-and-fast
rules, and individuals find what works best for them. However, any book
on candle magick will give you information on colour and its correspondences
and often includes a chapter on incense.
Groups choose what they feel comfortable with. For example, you may be
used to certain colour candles in the quarters and attend someone else’s
ritual where different colours are used.
Be careful when using candles, and do not leave them unattended, unless
on surfaces like marble. I once did an eight-day candle-burning ritual
in my bath, and discovered that a large hole had burned right down to the
I had to get a new bath, resplendent with tiles. I was ‘lucky’ that the
fibreglass didn’t explode. (I can hear you asking if this was a sign that
my spell succeeded or flopped ...)
This is one of the witch’s basic tools. However, it is also
used by most magicians. The Athame is associated with the Element of Fire
(although some associate it with the Element of Air). It is a symbol of
masculinity and is associated with power, strength and virility. The athame
is a ceremonial blade, preferably with a black handle.
Although swords are usually used by magicians, witches and Wiccans
also possess them, especially in covens. It is considered a tool of command,
and is male in energy.
Assigned to the Element of Air, and also a masculine energy, the
wand is seen as a tool of persuasion rather than command.
Used as a symbol for Earth, the pentacle can be
made of any material and incorporates symbols that are meaningful to the
The cauldron represents birth and creation, and is a female
symbol. It is tied to much myth and tale and is most useful in the magickal
act of burning paper sigils or for scrying (i.e. foretelling the future).
The Cup or Chalice
Representing the Element of Water, the
cup or chalice is a feminine symbol. It is consecrated and used only for
the purpose of communion with the gods and the self.
By far the greatest part of magick preparation involves exercises to reinforce
will and activate imagination. Most books on magick (which are becoming
more freely available as interest in the topic increases) include detailed
exercises with step-by-step instructions.
A lot of magickal work relies on the ability of the practitioner wilfully
to shift consciousness into a non-ordinary, visionary state of awareness.
Traditionally, certain methods have been used to cause this shift: dance,
song, music, colours, scents, drumming, fasting, meditation, breathing
exercises and forms of hypnosis.
Dramatic, mystical environments, such as sacred groves, magickal circles
or temples will aid this shifting consciousness.
Meditation, Visualisation and Pathworkings
and pathworkings are also used.
In visualisation, certain images are focused on, thereby stimulating the
Pathworkings are probably the most powerful form of this. In a trance-like
state, and under the guidance of someone else, the person or persons are
taken on an imaginary journey.
One of the primary reasons why pathworkings are so effective is because
most of the imagery encountered is highly archetypal and therefore talks
directly to our subconscious. From here on, the exercises become increasingly
intense and vary according to the type of magick the person is pursuing.
Simple breathing techniques are learnt, enabling the process of relaxing
the mind and body. It can be quite disciplined, requiring the individual
to sit dead still for a lengthy period — at the same time focusing solely
on the work in progress.
Visualisation and pathworkings may be considered journeys of the conscious
(from without), whereas meditation may be considered as a journey of the
unconscious (from within).
The need for ritual is inherent within us all. Take, for example, the
idea of feeling that you can’t get up in the morning without a cigarette
or a cup of coffee. This would be to define ritual in its narrowest sense
— as a simple repetition of actions. Those who practise ritual as an act
of divine service, or as a form of ceremony, would hotly contest this.
Today, the need for ritual seems unprecedented. The removal of rites of
passage in our Western society has alienated us from our own understanding
of the cycles of life. Pagan rituals are a lifeline in restoring the equilibrium
of mind and spirit.
They tend to emphasise rites of passage such as birth, sexual maturation,
birth, war, death, divorce or separation, as well as house and animal blessings.
They are also attuned to the cycles of the seasons, with festival celebrations
at the equinoxes, solstices and the cross-quarter festivals.
In modern Western society, many people feel alienated and have weakened
spiritual links; they are yearning to ‘reconnect’. Because we are aware
of this, ritual has made a big comeback in our spiritual growth. It need
not be an empty show, although it can all too easily slip into the mode
of pompous gatherings and elaborate theatre.
Definition of Ritual
Ritual may be defined as a ‘ceremony’ ~ as a
specific set of movements or the manipulation of objects designed to produce
desired inner processes. Inherent in this definition, then, is the idea
of magick — the use of will, focus and imagination to manipulate and/or
To speak of ritual in a religious sense is to speak of it as union with
the Divine. In a magickal sense, ritual is enacted to produce a specific
state of consciousness to achieve a set of goals.
Ritual is something inherent in all religions. It enables us to deal with
archetypes, to tap into Jung’s collective unconscious. Ritual is a method,
an approach for contacting the external and internal Divine within us.
It is a way of understanding, or making sense of our inner psyche at its
deepest level, in order that we may contact the Divine within.
For the magician or practitioner who works only with the god-form within,
ritual ceremony is a tool for tapping into that power.
Ritual then is a symbolic language. It is a way in which we come to terms
with the processes of life and death and the cycles of rebirth at all levels
of our being. Ritual is not an objective process; it is a relative and
Wiccan Ritual in South Africa
Judging from the number of Pagans that attend public festivals and those
that ask how and when and where they can attend them, South African Pagans
love ritual. Some would describe themselves as ‘ritual animals’. Having
spoken to many at these occasions, their raison d’étre is to ‘connect’,
to find a place to ‘belong’, a place to be safe, Participating in the ritual
aids these needs.
Rituals and gatherings are a ‘back-to-the-clan’ concept, a natural manifestation
of the spiritual healing taking place in post-apartheid South Africa.
The amount of ritual goings-on in small groups is growing rapidly. Here
the meeting of minds and spirits is deeper than just connection and belonging;
ritual is a bridge to the Divine. The eclecticism is profound.
The fact that we are forging ahead with our own ‘traditions’, using what
we want from British and American sources and applying our own minds, means
that a new, dynamic approach and vision is developing. This is particularly
evident in Wiccan circles.
We may have a lot to learn from Britain, for example, particularly when
it comes to discipline and respect for tradition, but South Africa has
a lot to offer when it comes to creativity, impetus and new life.
Donna Darkwolf's Big Book of Spells Contd. >>