BASIC TECHNOLOGIES OF WITCHCRAFT
This is the outline for a collection of four semi-formal training sessions
for people interested in starting out in "The Craft" or Neopaganism. It is
intended to give enough grounding to effectively participate in ritual,
with the expectation that those that are really dedicated, skilled, and/or
interested will undertake further study.
Since this is for beginners, there are no textbooks, no required reading,
and the course only deals with such material as can be taught in four 1-1/2
to 2 hour informal sessions.
I. DAY ONE: Neopagan Traditions
The first day's material is a basic overview of Neopagan history and
tradition, intended to make people more comfortable with the subject.
A. History of The Craft
Examine two topics to show how they influence the modern witch:
how Neopagan witchcraft grew out of and borrows from the
Gardnerian Reformation, and how our Craft Law developed from a
variety of traditions and needs.
1. Origins, Ancient (?) and Modern
Fact before theory: discuss the evolution of witchcraft
from Gardner onwards, then overview the evidences that
witchcraft is a pre-Christian and (possibly) pre-historic
a. The Gardnerian Reformation
Discussion of Gerald Gardner and both the original and
modern versions of Gardnerian Witchcraft (with a quick
side-line into its off-shoot and competitor, Alexandrian
b. The Church of All Worlds and Neopaganism
History of the Church of All Worlds and its contri-
butions, including the word "neopagan" and "Green Egg",
the journal in which the framework of modern, Neopagan
witchcraft was developed from the framework of
Gardnerianism crossed with Greco/Roman and Egyptian
c. The Non-Pagan Branches of the Craft
Other types of witches: Feminist Wicca, Church of Wicca,
the Masonic Druids of England, and the Family Tradition-
d. Evidences of Stone-Age Witchcraft
Discuss some of the evidence that witchcraft carries on
a tradition with stone-age origins and a 10,000 year
history, both pro and con. Emphasize that there is no
conclusive evidence one way or the other.
2. Craft Law, Ancient and Modern
a. The Reasons for Craft Law
Discuss how the in-bred fear of of the Powers of Evil,
combined with the need to trust each other against the
Inquisition, gave birth to the concept of Craft Law.
b. The Wiccan Rede
"An it harm none, do what thou will." Stress both the
libertine and the disciplinarian interpretations of that
law. Discuss the Law of Karma, and how the Wiccan Rede
(interpreted properly) becomes more of a safety rule
than a Commandment.
c. The Rule of Secrecy
Gloss quickly over the Inquisition (everybody knows
enough), and examine some of the evidence that a "witch-
hunt" is being begun. Encourage the students to
recognize that the decision to be public or secretive
has to be made by each individual, and they have the
right to expect others to respect their privacy on this
3. Magick in Theory and Practice
Magick is the unifying force in all of the Neopagan
Traditions. To lay the groundwork for Day Two, explain the
basic theories of magick, and how they influence the design
and practice of Neopagan ritual.
a. The Basic Rules of Magick
Explain that the central theory of magick is that
reality can be altered by a sufficiently strong will,
focused by the proper ritual. For comparison and
contrast, mention Bell's Hypothesis, from quantum
physics. Discuss seriously the possibility that all
that the magician alters is his own mind and awareness
of how the world works.
b. Magick and Neopagan Ritual
Define the two classic types of ritual: religious and
magickal, or (better terms) theurgical and thauma-
turgical. Show how magick is used in both, and where
the rituals diverge.
B. The Magick Circle
Even more than the pentacle, the Magick Circle is the central
symbol of Neopagan Witchcraft. The final topic for Day One is
the purpose, symbolism, and protocols of a pagan Circle.
1. Purpose and Symbolism
a. Ceremonial Magic and Qabbalism versus the Pagan Circle
Most people get their idea of what a circle is for from
the Ceremonial magicians and kaballists, who use it for
protection from outside magick. Emphasize that the
quantum leap that Gardner made was to think of using the
circle INSTEAD to keep beneficial magick WITHIN the
ritual area until it is fully built-up, focused, and
b. The Power of the Circle: The Five Elements
Discuss how the classic Four Elements of Greek science
are the symbols for four types of power, four states of
matter, four types of personality, and so forth, showing
correspondences. Highlight the difference between
elemental power, psychic power, and divine power - and
the similarities. Explain how the elements are used
in casting the circle.
c. Ritual Tools
Discuss one-by-one the tools that a witch uses to focus
her mind - the athame, the elemental symbols (salt or a
pentacle for earth, a candle or lamp for fire, the
incense and the wand for air, the chalice for water),
the magic mirror, the sword, candles, herbs, and the use
2. Conduct within the Circle
Two final bits of information needed inside the circle: the
directions of casting and the integrity of the circle.
a. Widdershins and Deosil
Define the terms (deosil = clockwise, widdershins =
counter-clockwise). Explain that widdershins is often
mistaken for evil, but show that the difference is more
accurately raising or bannishing power. Stress that, in
order to get along, when in doubt, go deosil.
b. The Integrity of the Circle
Remind people that, since no evil magick is involved,
there is no RISK involved in leaving a circle. However,
stress that since a circle is supposed to CONTAIN energy
it should not be punctured hastily or unnecessarily.
Teach how to open and close gateways in the circle, and
when to and not to do so.
II. DAY TWO: MEDITATION AND VISUALIZATION
The second day's concentration is on the mental aspects of magick and
ritual work, and is mostly in workshop form.
Describe meditation as a means of altering your mental state by
relaxation and concentration. Contrast meditation and trance
state. Discuss the use of posture (asana) and paradoxical
breathing (pranayama) to attain a meditative state, then do a few
Explain the difference between imagining and visualizing, then
stress the similarities. Stress the fact that visualization is
something that you will continually get better at - but there is
still no "wrong way." Then lead the students through the
1. Grounding and Centering
Using the seven chakras as steps along the way, guide them to
visualize energy being drawn up from the Earth and blown
through the tops of their heads (at the crown chakra) in a
free-flowing fountain. Then (if they seem up to it), guide
them to mold and direct that energy flow into a circle, then
a sphere of blinding white light. Have them draw the circle
back down through their spines until it is returned to the
2. Contacting Your Magickal Self
Get them as relaxed as possible and in a deep meditative
state, then starting with a visualization of a Safe Place in
the forest, lead them to a fairy hill, then through the Maze
of the subconscious until they are somewhat lost. Guide them
to a long stairway, then through the door at the top. Then
set the mental setting - that at the doorway they change into
a powerful magician, and suddenly all of the tools and
symbols in the room are meaningful. Instruct them to study
the tools for a while. After a minute or two, lead them back
out through the maze, then to the clearing, and wake them
3. Aura Reading and Healing
Guide them to ground and center (as II.B.1, above), then
stand in front of an evenly-lit white wall. Have them
open their eyes and stare at a point in the distance
beyond the instructor. (Note: this will for some of
them be the first time that they'll be channeling power
with their eyes open, so take your time.) Instruct them
to look for the greyish line around me (that is actually
an optical illusion). Once they've found it, instruct
them to visualize it being replaced with a wash of
color. Have them examine it for variations in thickness
Point out an ill or sore region on the instructor's
body. Have them examine it for variations in color or
brilliance. Pick one student, then have him wrap his
hands in the energy that he's drawing, then "tune" it to
the color of the healthy areas in the aura. Instruct
him to use his hands as if he were rubbing on oil or
paint to color over the sick area, visualizing the new
color (healthy energy) replacing the older area, and
continue until the color stays changed after he's no
longer touching it or until he gets tired.
III.DAY THREE: BASIC RITUAL TECHNIQUES
The previous two courses teach the full minimum necessary to work solo
magick. The remaining two days will concentrate on group ritual. In
Day Three, we will discuss the basic techniques.
To explain the outline, relate the outline of the three Essentials of
Eastern magick - mandalla, mantra, and mudra.
A. Mantra - Music and Chanting
Discuss the three types of mantra most often used in Neopagan
ritual: memorized chants (for creating and focusing the Group
Mind), impromptu chanting (for advanced meditation and growing
together), and plainsong (for worship).
1. Memorized Chants
Teach them the chants listed below. Then run quickly (for
familiarization purposes only) through "We Wander Now", "Hoof
and Horn", "Burn Bright", "Circle 'Round the Fire", and any
others that I can remember on the spot.
a. "We All Come from the Goddess"
We ALL - COME from the GODdess
AND to HER we SHALL reTURN
LIKE a DROP - OF - RAIN
FLOWing TO the O-CEAN (repeat)
b. "I Circle Around"
I CIRcle aROUND, I CIRcle aROUND ...
the BOUN-'DRIES OF the EARTH ...
WEARing my LONG tail FEAthers AS I GLIDE ...
WEARing my LONG tail FEAthers AS I GLIDE ... (repeat)
c. "Air I Am"
(evenly spaced, every syllable emphasized)
Air I am,
Fire I am,
Water, Earth and Spirit I am ... (repeat)
d. "The Goddess Chant"
iSIS, aSTARte, diANna, HECaTE,
deMEter, KALi - inNAna (repeat)
2. Impromptu Chanting
Discuss the uses of impromptu chanting: ecstatic magick
(where one can't count on elaborate chants) and for deep
probing rituals, where they are used for free association.
As an example, demonstrate the three-word style that Starhawk
teaches in SPIRAL DANCE. Emphasize the use of beat and tempo
as unifying factors.
For contrast, sing the NROOGD classic, "O Earth Mother" to
demonstrate that not all ritual music needs to be in the form
of basic chants.
B. Mudra - Movement and Dance
1. Ritual Dance
(This section has not yet been finalized. Current plans
focus on simple circle-dance steps, the famed "spiral dance",
and then brief discussion of free-form dance and ecstatic
2. Theater Techniques
Remind people that one of the purposes of ritual is to catch
and hold the attention of Child Self, and point out that the
language that Child Self speaks best is melodrama. Instruct
them that gestures and actions in the Circle should speak
loud enough that words are not necessary. Then, since they
undoubtedly won't get the point, do two exercises to rub
their noses in it.
a. Banishing Exercise
Set up a circle, then pick out someone who seems to know
a bit about magick. Get him to go to one of the
quarters and ground and center. Then have him visualize
a threat approaching from his quarter, and tell him to
do a banishing. (He will inevitably do something
traditional, elaborate, and sterile.) Relax him, then
ask the class how THEY would have reacted, if THEY were
attacking the circle, to what he had done. Pick an
absolute novice, put him in the same place, ground and
center, pump them up with melodrama and heroics, then
describe a different menace and instruct them to scare
it off, turn it away (don't use the word "banish"). See
if the gestures aren't more dramatic.
b. Charging Exercise
Pick a couple who seem to know a bit about magick (if
possible), and have them ground, center, and use the
wand and chalice for a symbolic Great Rite. (See if
they do anything more sexual than just stick the wand
into the cup - I doubt it.) Relax them, then point out
to the class that the energies to be raised in this
exercise are to be earthy and sexual, EXACTLY like the
"rush" or thrill of heavy flirtation. Then pick the
most COMPATIBLE-looking couple (if possible) and repeat
the exercise (and see if they don't make it more
IV. NEOPAGAN SYMBOLISM
Today's lecture has two purposes. First, we will deal with the
legends, meta-legends, and conventions that form the basis for most
Neopagan ritual. Then we will discuss the purposes behind a witchcraft
initiation, and walk through the one that the graduates of this class
Theology and thealogy (the alpha-ending, Thea, being the Greek
feminine ending) are outlined to show how Neopagans relate to
their own and other people's choices of gods. The hook on which
this will all be hung is that most of the Gods represent facets of
human experience personified.
1. Forms of the God
Discuss the various types of masculine gods that appear in
pagan and Neopagan myth: the Sun-child, the Horned Hunter,
the Sensitive Artist, and the Lord of Death.
2. Forms of the Goddess
Discuss the image of the Three-Fold Goddess: the Maiden, the
Mother, and the Crone.
B. The Wheel of the Year
Read aloud the story of the Wheel of the Year from THE SPIRAL
DANCE, pages 28 and 29. Point out that this is the solar
calendar, and relate it to the agricultural cycle. Then add the
mystical component by telling the story of Persephone's descent
into the underworld, showing how it relates to the Wheel.
Tell the story of how Osiris was slain by his jealous brother,
Set, and how his sister/wife Isis went down into the Underworld to
gain the secret of resurrection from the dead (for reminders, use
Wilson's account in COSMIC TRIGGER).
Discuss how Isis's humiliation in the land of the dead compares to
the psychology of initiation (with a brief aside into Paul's
revelation of Eleusis: "Except a seed of grain fall into the Earth
and die, it cannot rise again"). Use this and the discussion from
Day One of how Craft Law arose to outline the dual purpose of a
witchcraft initiation: to lead the initiate through humiliation
and death into elevation and new life, and to bind the initiate to
the laws necessary for the group experience of the Craft.
Finally, if time permits, do a walk-through of the initiation to
familiarize the candidates with it, then give them their scripts
ough of the initiation to
familiarize the can