Sunday, July 18, 2010

Witches, Part 4: Modern Witchcraft

Now I've come to the closing of my miniseries about witches. If anyone feels I have left anything out or if my information is flawed, feel free to comment below, or contact me at With that being said, let me introduce you to what I consider to be the four main parts of modern witchcraft:

1) Haitian Vodou or "Voodoo"

This religion is largely misunderstood, thanks to Hollywood. It is a religion largely associated with spirits. Many illnesses and afflictions are believed to be the possession of malignant spirits, and in order to cure the sick person, the spirit must be purged. More information on how to do this can be found here

Louisiana Voodoo is different from Haitian Vodou, although it was influenced by the latter. Information about Louisiana Voodoo can be found here. For the purposes of witchcraft, I'm going to focus on the spells. There are two main ones for Louisiana Voodoo: the "cure-all" and the Voodoo doll. The cure-all is a form of spell which provides a solution to all problems. While there are many different recipes for a cure-all, the one listed was as follows:

Mix jimson weed with sulphur and honey. Pour the mixture into a glass and rub that glass against a black cat. Then sip it slowly. 

A voodoo doll is also not what Hollywood portrays it to be. It is used to bless people, not curse them. Sticking pins into the doll was to pin pictures, etc. to the "person" symbolizing spirits which would influence that person's life. There were four different things which could be influenced in this manner: love, power and domination, luck and finance, and uncrossing (which I take to mean removing bad luck, a malignant spirit, or a curse on the person).

More information about Vodou can be found:

At the Wikipedia page

At New Orleans Mystic (.com)

At the Witches' Voice 

2) Hoodoo

Hoodoo is described as a "magiobotanical art," meaning that practitioners of hoodoo use plants and herbs in their spells. Not only are plants used, but often parts of animals and/or human urine, semen, or menstrual blood is used in these spells. A very comprehensive guide to hoodoo can be found here, or of course at the Wikipedia page.  The first contains not only an overview of hoodoo, but also a list of "spells."

3) Shamanism 

Shamans, also known as "Medicine Men" or "Witch Doctors" are very spiritual people who seek to cure others of ailments. These men are able to commune with spirits and control them. For instance, shamans are reputed to be able to cure anything from infertility in women (cured by finding the soul of the soon-to-be-born child) to curing a scarcity of hunted game (which is solved by finding the souls of the animals and releasing them from their hideouts). 

Shamans are also able to see visions, often influenced by the spiritual world, and some say they can use the spirits of animals in order to transform their bodies into these animals. This is potentially a seed for the shifter lore I will shortly be speaking of. 

Some useful sites on shamanism include:

The Wikipedia page

The Crystalinks site

Shamanism by Wyldkat

Sacred texts on Shamanism

The Reiki-Shamanism site (contains information on healing in Shamanism)

4) Wicca

Wicca is a very peaceful religion, focusing on "White" magic. A site on "Black" magic can be found here. White magic means that these spells should be used only for good, not for harm. One source even suggested that any spell cast for harm would rebound on the caster three times over (that's Karma for you!). 

Wicca worships a Goddess alongside God. Before casting a spell, they appeal to both deities for guidance. Some spells also ask for help from the elements (North, South, East, West, corresponding with Air, Water, Fire, and Earth). For more information about these elements or elementals, look here. These spells often use incense and candles, the colours/scents of which correspond to the flavour of the spell (white for purity, black for protection, etc. Take a look here for more information). While the spells often involve a sacrifice, killing animals takes no part of it. "Sacrifice" in those terms means giving up something you hold dear—for instance: a ring, a letter, etc. It has to be something that you would will miss, or the sacrifice is not strong and the spell will fail. After the ritual or spell is complete, you must return that sacrifice to the earth (bury it). 

For more information on Wicca, check out these sites:

The Wikipedia page

About the religion

A list of spells

If you're looking for information about the history of witches, try the Malleus Maleficarum by Montague Summers

For those of you still bouncing on the edge of your seats from the first part of this series, join me on Wednesday, when I'll be talking about creating a believable scheme for your magic.



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