The breath, as well as the sounds formed with it, is an integral part of folk magic.
To the ancient Hawaiians, the power used in magic was known as mana. Every aspect of nature and the human body-especially the breath-was infused with mana. Thus chants were carefully stated during spells and rituals, for the words themselves contained the power of breath. This same idea is found the world over, and may have originated in prehistoric times.
When speech had developed to the point where it gained prominence over earlier methods of communications, such as grunts, bodily postures and hand gestures, it was probably used for magical and ritual purposes.
Humans have given the spoken word tremendous importance in both the material and magical realms. Through the ages, words of power and secret chants have been passed down from one folk magician to another. Until the late 1900s, British wisewomen preserved short, rhyming charms aimed at stopping bleeding or cooling fevers. Oaths are still sworn with words, and lying (especially face-to-face) is considered the ultimate insult and disgrace in many parts of the world.
In human relations, words are the primary means of communication. For illiterate persons (of whom millions live in the U.S. alone), it is the only intelligible method of sharing emotions, thoughts, and experiences.
In magic words can be used as a form of communication between the folk magician and the power within. Words are spoken to herbs, candles, and stones, especially during rituals designed to arouse and program their energies. The words themselves aren't usually thought to create the necessary changes, though the interplay of vibrations (sound waves) with physical objects may be a factor. Rather, words are used to help pinpoint the magician's concentration and to allow her or him to perform this magical action. In other words, when a folk magician speaks to a candle, she or he is actually speaking to the self.
Poetry is perhaps the most potent form of ritual speech. It touches and speaks to the unconscious mind, the mind of dreams, psychism, sleep, and magic. Rhymed words are easier to recall, and flow smoothly during ritual operations. Hence they're long been used in spells.
The importance of the words used lie in their ability to imbue the folk magician with the proper state of mind, and once this has been achieved, allow him or her to move energy. Ancient words of power may be ineffective if they're meaningless to the magician. A freshly composed, four-line rhyme-if it speaks to the magician-can be sufficient to produce the necessary state of mind and to get the power flowing.
The power of words, the whisper of breath, and the undeniable effect of sound are ancient magical tools.
Many other techniques and objects are used by folk magicians. These include: knots-used to represent the physical manifestation of a spell or to lend protection to a person or place; clay-which can be molded into symbolic shapes; mirrors-used to reflect negativity ("evil") and to awaken psychic awareness; sand-which is poured into specific images, somewhat like the way the Navajo create sand paintings; water-a tool of purification; runes-ancient or modern symbols containing within their few lines specific magical energies; ink-used to create shapes or to sketch runes; and food-which is prepared or cooked and eaten for specific magical changes.
Many spells and rituals utilize two or more of the four basic tools explored in this chapter. A simple peace-inducing ritual, for example, may invoke blue candles, amethyst, a handful of rose petals, and a peaceful chant. These are used in appropriate ways by the folk magician to achieve the necessary results.
The tools of folk magic are as normal as the stones beneath our feet, the candles on our dinner tables, and the herbs growing in our gardens and parks. It is only through magical ritual that these everyday objects become instruments of power in the hands of folk magicians.
On a deserted mountaintop a lone folk magician mixes warmed beeswax, rosemary, and myrrh oil. Bending over her work, she pulls, smooths, and molds the mixture into a rough human shape. Twenty minutes later she has successfully captured the image of a local woman-the curve of the hips, the long nose, the stringy hair.
The Moon rise in the East as the Sun sets. The Witch lights a small fire of rowan and elder twigs and throws a sprinkling of sandalwood chips onto the flames. As she places the image beside the blaze, scented smoke rises and surrounds the folk magician's face. Her eyes drill into the warming image as she intently visualizes.
She slowly lifts her arms, feeling the power rise within her. After a few moments the Witch suddenly points her fingers at the image. A tremendous, awesome rush of energy streams from them into the little wax doll. Certain that the power has been sent into the image, and thus into the woman which it represents, the folk magician picks up the doll and walks home.
One of the most prevalent charges brought against folk magicians and Witches is that they spend most of their time sticking pins into dolls. They delight, outsiders say, in throwing around hexes and curses with the purpose of injuring, controlling, sickening, and killing human beings.
Perhaps in the 50,000 or more years that folk magic has been practiced there were a few who attempted to perform such deeds, but during that same time millions of outright murders have been committed by priests, monks, kings, queens, judges, juries, mayors, police chiefs, and a plethora of common folk of every religious background. Many of the most brutal, horrendous, and widespread acts of genocide were-and still are-being practiced by religious factions.
Folk magicians don't use magic for this purpose. This is not to say that, with a little searching, a person who claims to practice magic might be found who will agree to perform a death hex or some such ritual; but hit men and political assassins of every religious background can also be found.
If we accept the fact that the majority of persons who own firearms are not and will not become murderers, we must also accept the fact that most folk magicians don't use their talents for this end.
Surprised? It may be surprising because usually we assume that anyone with powerspiritual or temporal-will abuse it to the limits of their capabilities. In the United States we've seen political power abused by the White House, religious power abused by televangelist and small-town preachers, and legal power abused by judges and lawyers. Wouldn't folk magicians also abuse their power?
No. The majority of experienced folk magicians-not dabblers-realize that misusing magic isn't the way. They don't believe that our problems are caused by others, and that by eliminating somebody, our lives become paradises.
Folk magicians realize that we create our futures every second that we live. Today's decisions can have far-reaching effects on our lives. If we allow others to manipulate us, if we allow ourselves to marry someone we don't love, if we allow ourselves to ruin our lives, then we have only ourselves to blame, not others.
Thus, the motivation for folk magicians to harm or kill others through magic is nonexistent. In addition, folk magicians largely subscribe to a code of magical morality, which kills off any spiritual violence that they may wish to do during fits of emotional turmoil.
If magicians perform effective magic, it follows that they must ensure the proper use of this power. Because folk magicians utilize the energy of their own bodies and also that of the Earth, they realize that this energy is greater than themselves. Even folk magicians with no religious or spiritual in nature-for folk magic isn't truly religious in nature-sense responsibility in wielding this power.
The power at work in folk magic is just that-power. It is neither positive nor negative, neither good nor evil. It is the intention and goal of the magician working with it that determines whether this energy is used for helpful or harmful ends.
Folk magicians usually perform magic for positive reasons. Certainly, it's untrue to say that all practitioners use folk magic in non-harmful ways, just as the statement "all politicians use their influence for the greater good" is untrue. However, those few practitioners of harmful magic are violating the basic principle of folk magic:
This premise, the idea behind most religious and civil codes of conduct, is universal. Harm none means just that-not yourself, not your enemies-none. Harming here includes physical, emotional, mental, spiritual, and psychic damage. Manipulation of others (such as forcing someone to fall in love with you) is also taboo, as is harming the earth and its treasures.
The so-called evil magicians do exist, but they're rare. Why? Perhaps it's because they find simpler, surer ways to do their dirty work. It's far easier to beat up your enemy, sleep with his wife or her husband, rob them, or practice blackmail than it is to perform destructive magic.
Practitioners of negative magic burn themselves out. As we've seen, the projection of personal energy in magic is an expenditure of the life-force within. Once a magician has wreaked metaphysical havoc, there's no turning back-the current is closed. In programming personal energy with negativity, the magician infuses her/himself with negative power by unlocking it within, which paves the way for a life of darkness and, eventually, an early grave. Evil magicians destroy themselves with their own curses.
The vast majority of folk magicians, however, work with positive, healing, loving energies. They do so because:
Magicians respect life. All living creatures, including humans and animals, are manifestations of the universal power. As such, they're respected and loved, not cursed out of existence.
Magicians respect the Earth. Long revered in religions throughout history, the earth is respected as the most intense manifestation of divine energy within our reach. It is also a source of incredible power. Therefore, magicians walk lightly upon the earth and do nothing to upset its intricate balance, such as maliciously ending a life or cursing a human being.
Magicians respect the power. As the ultimate, universal force, the power is inconceivable. The energy that created galaxies, DNA, humans, and billions of forms of terrestrial plants and insects isn't something to challenge. It's even more unwise to misuse the power. Most folk magicians aren't afraid of the power; they wisely respect it.
Reverence of this energy is the basis of all religions. It is that which has been called God, Yemaya, Goddess, Kwan Yin, Grandfather, and every other human conception of the divine.
Power sent will be received in like kind. Performing negative or destructive magic ensures that such energies will be returned to the magician. Healing, peace, and prosperity are far more pleasant energies to receive. Some magicians accept the concept of the "law of three," which states that magical actions are returned in triple strength to the power-wielder. Performing a ritual intended to harm another person-even if it isn't effective-may bring death to the magician.
Magic is love. It is a loving movement of energy from one or more natural sources to effect positive, healing changes. For magic to be effective, the magician must have love for the self, love for others, and love for the earth. Without these feelings magic stagnates and festers, turning into a brew of destructive energy which ultimately destroys the magician.
Heavy, isn't it? Yet it's so simple. Magic isn't hatred; magic is love. If we love ourselves we're willing to improve our lives. If we love others we're willing to help them find love, health, and happiness. If we love the earth we're willing to work toward healing it of the ravages that one hundred years of "progress" has created.
Folk magicians harm none. They don't work magic to change other people's lives, even in seemingly positive ways, without first receiving permission to do so. Healing rituals aren't attempted without the consent of the sick. Folk magicians won't weave an aura of love-attracting vibrations around a lonely person without first asking.
To those who've been reared on the idea that magic is the ultimate weapon against humanity, these truths may be boring-but the truth often is.
While wide-eyed audiences watch curses and death-spells flying across flickering screens or running along the pages of cheap books, folk magicians continue to happily spread love, health, prosperity, peace, and security in their own lives and in those who've come to them.
They do this because they accept the basic rule of magicHarm none.
Many forms of magic exist today, and folk magic is but one of them. The other two major types-ceremonial and religious-fall outside our definition of Witchcraft. However, because they're usually lumped in with all other occult practices under this heading, a brief look at them should serve to clear up some misconceptions.
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Magick is the art and practice of moving natural energies to effect needed or wanted change. Magick is natural, there is absolutely nothing supernatural about it. What is taught here are various techniques of magick for beginners. Magick is natural and simple and the techniques to develop abilities should be simple and natural as well. What is taught on this site is not only the basics of magick, but the basics of many things.