The Maniacal Rantings of the Urban Crone

Bear witness to the rantings of the Urban Crone as she emparts her wisdom in her own rather quirky way.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

The Good, the Bad and the Garbage: Sifting Through Witchcraft in the Age of Google

   Before the internet, finding spells and information on practicing actual Witchcraft was a challenge. If you were lucky, you could find a book with a listing of books and publishers in the back, contact them for their mail order catalogs, and build a reference library from there. In this, you were relegating yourself to countless hours of pouring through books, referencing several books at once, and sifting through all the contradictory information to hopefully come up with something, through trial and error, that would work for you. There were no guarantees in any of these books. Being printed in a book, even by a known author, did not guarantee that a spell or ritual would work, or even that it was safe. For many who started practicing in the pre-Google era, this was how we entered the craft, not with a click, but with the turn of the page, and the determination to find what we were looking for to build our path.

   I was lucky enough to have a mentor prior to having to dive into the book pile with everyone else. She was feisty old woman who would not accept anything but perfection. She was not one who would not just hand you something like a spell or a ritual. You had to earn it from her, and earning it meant that you had to prove you were ready for it, that you understood the mechanics of the ritual or spell. You had to be able to pick it apart and explain every aspect of it, why each piece was chosen and whether or not it would work, and be able to back that up with an explanation. It was that foundation, the foundation of questioning everything, which I still bring to the table when looking at anything to do with any aspect of Witchcraft.

   We live in a click and paste, Google existence. It now takes no time at all to find any spell with a simple Google search, whether we should be using them or not. And there are countless pages and people that just share spells and random information on Facebook and the rest of the web without any thought of responsibility for what they are putting out, or even the safety of those who find it and want to try it out. With the creation E-books and self-publishing, it is now possible for anyone to print anything, anywhere, whether it is true, right or functional. Because of this, I decided to put together this helpful primer on how to wade through all the Witchcraft that is now readily available at just the click of a mouse on Amazon or Google.

Rule #1: Nobody is golden.
I do not care if it came from Scott Cunningham on high or your Great-Great-Grandmother’s underwear drawer. I do not care if someone hands it to you who claims to have 7 generations of blah, blah, blah and initiated on their Grandmother’s kitchen table. If you didn’t write it, or directly witness the spell or ritual being successfully done, it is not to be taken as an automatic functional spell or ritual. Everyone makes mistakes. Your Grandmother may have jotted that spell down to be looked over later, and never got back to it. The person who typed up or edited an author’s work could have misread something. Aleister Crowley would intentionally write his rituals wrong or with very little explanation so that only those truly experienced would be able to perform them. Absolutely Nobody is Golden.

Rule#2: There is no such creature as a 100% reliable webpage or Facebook group/page.
We often fall into traps of being added to this group or have that page recommended to us because so and so runs it who is friends with whomever who is supposed to be some sort of 8th degree Jedi what have you. There is nothing wrong with belonging to a group or liking a page. And there are some people and groups who are experienced, intelligent and responsible enough to think about what they post before they post it. But, not many pages are like that. And, it is when you take everything on that page as 100% whole cloth gospel that you fall into a problem. There are people who claim to have experience who do nothing but copy and paste what they find on Google as their own work, without really having any understanding what they are actually posting. Worse, you have people who post things that are dangerous without any warnings or cares as to the safety of others. I don’t care who runs the page. There is simply no such creature as a 100% reliable webpage or Facebook group/page.

Rule#3: This may be a repeat of everything I just said, but, QUESTION EVERYTHING.
It doesn’t matter where you found it, whether in the book of a well-known, well-respected author, a web page/group, your Grandmother’s sock drawer or on the bathroom wall at your favorite book shop, question it. Never take any piece of magic, no matter how old or awesome it may seem, at face value. It never hurts to give anything a good solid look, yet it may hurt a whole lot more if you don’t. Question Everything.

   So, now that I have you questioning everything, I should probably give you some pointers as to how to question everything. This is not something that I found on the internet or in my grandmother’s broom closet. This is what I was taught, and what I do whenever a piece of magic I have not written comes in front of me:

1.       What is the actual intent of the spell/ritual? The title is not the intent. It is just there to catch your attention. Look at how it is written, the wording, key elements. What is the main focus of the spell/ritual? If you cannot clearly define the intent of the spell/ritual from the body of the work, more than likely the universe won’t either, and the spell/ritual is probably trash.

2.      Why did the author of the spell/ritual choose those ritual components/correspondences/etc? I am talking about everything from candles, herbs and incense to the components of their quarter calls. Why did they pick that color? Why did they choose that Deity? Pick the entire thing apart without mercy. A good solid spell/ritual will not have any waste. Every aspect of that spell/ritual will have a purpose that is directly tied to the intent. AND none of the components will counter act with the other components. Items that represent fertility probably should not be in a mojo bag that you are creating to not get pregnant. Any component that works at cross purposes with the intent of the spell/ritual will cancel everything else out.

3.     What would you do different to make the spell/ritual fit your path? Spell/rituals work by channeling our energy, our intent. There is nothing that makes a spell/ritual stronger than making it our own, putting our own spin on things. Incorporate Deities, herbs, stones and whatnot you are comfortable working with. Change the language of the body to your own words, something you would be comfortable saying. Rework the spell/ritual to where it actually speaks for you as your own voice, not as someone else’s creation in someone else’s voice.

4.     Write it all down. All the changes you made and why, along with the original spell/ritual. Write the new version down, date it, and note what happens when you cast it. If it doesn’t work (after a reasonable period of time), revisit your changes. Question your own work and start the process again until you get your desired outcome.

5.      Do your homework. If you come across an herb you have never used, or an aspect of a spell or ritual that you are not familiar with, research the heck out of it, and make sure you write it down, including your sources. You should know and understand every aspect of anything you work with. This holds especially true for herbs, as some of them carry some serious hazards with them. Understanding everything that you are working with will keep you from putting yourself or others in danger. It pays to take your time and do your homework, as understanding what you are working with will give you an extra boost of confidence that will come through in your work.

    Witchcraft was never meant to be taken at face value, handed over with the click of a mouse or the turn of a page. It was meant to be a slow learning process where you examined every aspect, questioned every morsel, and turned what you found into something that was your own. While the internet age has brought more information into our homes than ever before, it also brings with it things that at the very best isn’t necessarily functional, and at the very worst, downright dangerous. There is a great deal of responsibility that comes with being a Witch that some Witches simply do not understand, or just do not care. It really is up to you, for your own safety and peace of mind to not take anything at face value, question everything you find, and put your own energy, your own words into what you find so that you craft not only a spell/ritual that is functional, but that you craft a path that you understand fully and that you can be proud of as a creation of your own hard work. It’s a lot to do in this world of fast answers and fast food, but I promise that, in the end, it really is worth it.


Urban Crone

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