Witchcraft from Non-Witches

One of the myths prevalent in paganism today is that only witches used witchcraft.

In the 16th century, the Bishop of Glasgow made a curse-stone against reivers (cattle-rustlers) and the stone is still there today. The curse can be found at : http://www.bbc.co.uk/cumbria/features/2003/07/restoration/the_curse.shtml (sorry, but I can’t get links to work in WordPress, I seem to do all the right things and it comes up blank)

He got away with it because he was a bishop and according to popular myth, bishops don’t do magic. As you can see from reading the wording of the curse, that is a load of rubbish.

Druids also used to curse enemies. They would stand on one leg, raise one arm and close one eye. Unfortunately we have no records of what words they used.

Then there is folk magic. Ordinary people would use witchcraft to effect a cure against a disease. They would do this by invoking Jesus, Mary and Joseph in the spell, so they weren’t witches because in the popular mindset (which unfortunately prevails today) witchcraft was evil and Satanic.

So you see, there was a lot of witchcraft going on, only under a different name and disguised as other things.

Ancestor Altar

In the last place I rented, I had set up an altar for my ancestors. I set one up in my current home but didn’t seem to get around to using it.

So now I make an effort to go and talk to my ancestors daily. It’s nothing fancy; just a picture of my Granny and my Nanna that I photocopied.
It gives me a sense of peace and fulfilment that I have my ancestors with me.

What a lot of people don’t realise is that talking to your ancestors is a form of necromancy, which many people think of as evil and/or not to be done. I don’t know why this is the prevailing morality as we’re not doing any harm to anyone.

There is a famous story in the Tain Bo Cuilagne where the druids realise that the story of the Tain has been lost. So they find the grave of Fergus mac Roich, raise his spirit and ask him to tell the story.

One of my Favourite Things

Last weekend I was chopping up dried nettles to make into nettle tea. Nettles are my favourite herb. I use them for giving me a boost after I’ve been ill, as they have iron and vitamin C in them.

There are a variety of recipes for cooking with nettles, the most popular being nettle soup. I have yet to try them in this, but am planning to do so next Spring, when the nettle leaves are apparently at their most tender.

In witchcraft I use nettles for protection magic. Thistles can be used as well, as can anything that stings or pierces, but nettles are easier to find, pick and dry.


Last Wednesday I celebrated Lughnasadh. Lugh set up Lughnasadh to be the funeral games for Tealte, Lugh’s nurse who died clearing the plain of Mag Mell.
I decided to chop the grass under the tree where I celebrate the festivals as a re-enactment of what Tealte had done. However, the gods had other ideas and when I got to the tree there was a heap of branches lying on the ground which had come down with the high winds.

So I had to go back to the house and get the basket we use to carry garden waste, plus shears and secateurs instead of the scissors I had planned to use.

I enjoyed doing it, which I didn’t expect as my back was aching beforehand and I had a blister on my foot. I had to unwind the circle to take a basketload and dump it in our bin, then wind the circle back up to finish the ritual.

In the ritual I asked for sun and summer to come. We need the sun for the crops, as it should be harvest time and a lot of the crops are still in the fields.

Afterwards I had a cup of tea and a piece of Irish cake called a barm brack, normally made at Lughnasadh, which I’d made myself. I think the yeast it had been made with hadn’t risen properly, which was why it was burnt on the top, so I just sliced off the burnt bits.

Then I went upstairs to watch horse-racing and hurley on the internet as Lugh brought horse-racing, ball-playing and fidchell (similar to chess) to Ireland and they were part of the funeral games. I couldn’t find any fidchell on the net. A couple of years ago a friend sent me a site where I could play fidchell, but the computer was so fast I couldn’t see what it was doing.