Book Review – Besom, Stang & Sword

If you are a witch, like me, of a non-Wiccan, non-Pagan persuasion, this newly released book may be present the path for you. Orapello and Maguire have put together their own tradition of witchcraft that makes sense for modern times. This book serves as a reminder that we are people of the land, and we are each tied to the land where we live. There may be little need for gods from an ancient bygone country which we have never seen or heard. Instead we should favor indigenous plants and animals, local customs, the spirits and ancestors of our own land, and the seasons not only of our own region, but seasons that make sense to modern living (that is, a non-agrarian society that has little fear of food scarcity or timing rituals around harvest or famine).  This is especially poignant as Americans with a shorter breadth of history and folklore native to our home country.
As the title would suggest, the tools of this craft are traditional as well, but adaptable to our own needs. The authors lay out a sixfold path of traditional witchcraft which includes: History and lore, magick, divination, herbalism, necromancy and hedgewitchery. Their system flips the established yet contrived order of the elemental corners upside down, in favor of one that makes more locative sense to the user’s common sense. There is no shortage of animism or ancestors here, along with their two primary deities who are the masculine and feminine deifications of Nature itself.
I myself will be adopting many of their ideas into my regular magical work. This kind of magic ties the blood of Man to the soil of the Earth in a deep and meaningful way. What’s more is it raises our awareness of the world immediately around us and our relationship with it. Rather than adopting a witchcraft tradition which is a confused occultic hodgepodge amalgamation of other peoples’ ideas (or worse, a confused “New Age” practice that has no coherency or basis in reality whatsoever), Besom Stang & Sword inspire the reader to make their own path, and more importantly, forge a living tradition that is woven into their own world.

“To Hoodoo a Man’s Nature”

This goes out to all the girls and boys with a man who can’t keep his cock to himself, excerpt from Catherine Yronwode’s Hoodoo Herb and Root Magic: A Materia Magica of African-American Conjure & Traditional Formulary Giving the Spiritual Uses of Natural Herbs, Roots, Minerals, & Zoological Curios

To Hoodoo a Man’s Nature:
If a man you love is running around and won’t be faithful, take the MEASURE of his penis while he is hard, transferring the MEASURE to a STRING. Wipe the STRING with his SEMEN, then tie nine knots in it. To tie the knots, make the start of a knot at the center of the STRING, then call his name. When he replies, pull the knot tight. Do this for each knot, on nine separate days. The order in which the knots are tied is this:

—9—7—5—3—1—2—4—6—8—

Keep this knotted MEASURE-STRING in a red flannel bag dressed with Stay With Me Oil. If you hate the man and want to destroy his sex life, roll his MEASURE in RED PEPPER powder and CROSSING OIL, then use it as a wick and hand-form a black penis-shaped candle around it. Dress the candle with Crossing Oil, light the wick and let it burn all the way out.

Book Review – The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic


In The Witches’ Ointment: The Secret History of Psychedelic Magic, Thomas Hatsis takes you on a roller coaster ride through history in search for the mysterious origins of the legend of the witches’ flying ointment. Through story telling and by using primary historical sources, Hatsis presents the way in which the village healers and folk medicine practitioners of the Middle Ages became the most hated and feared of creatures to Christian Europe–witches! This book explores the historical use of psychoactive substances in both medicine and magic, and sheds much light on the Inquisitors who reacted to these practices with fear. Thomas Hatsis’ academic work, shown expertly in this book, is truly, truly impressive. Did he find the fabled recipe for magical flight? You will have to read to find out!

Magical Resistance Through the Ages

In 1588, with tensions between Philip II of Spain and Elizabeth I at their peak, Philip launched the 130 warships, known as the dreaded Spanish Armada, in an attempt to invade England. According to popular legend, the privateer turned explorer Sir Francis Drake had sold his soul to Satan to become a master of the sea. In the summer of that year, Drake gathered with a mysterious group of witches at Devil’s Point, Devon where they raised a mighty storm that would destroy half the ships and leave the Armada running back to Spain with its tail between its legs. Locals say the witches can still be heard chanting there to this day.

Others like Gerald Gardner, claim that witches were instrumental in preventing Napoleon from invading England, possibly even lending their aid at Waterloo. For a fun alternative history take on the English using magic against Napoleon, see Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell: A Novel.

In 1940, again England was under the threat of invasion, this time by none other than Hitler’s Third Reich, who each and every day were dropping bombs on London and other English towns. It was largely expected that a land invasion from Nazi forces was imminent, who sources say were already waiting on the other side of the Channel for their invasion orders. Enter the witches, again. This time a coven of 17, joined by Gerald Gardner and other residents of Highcliffe-on-Sea, who joined on Lammas night to engage in Operation Cone of Power. Here the witches performed a powerful ritual to raise a cone of power against Hitler himself, according to Gardner in Witchcraft Today:

“Witches did cast spells, to stop Hitler landing after France fell…They met, raised the great cone of power and directed the thought at Hitler’s brain: ‘You cannot cross the sea’ … just as their great-grandfathers had done to Boney and their remoter forefathers had done to the Spanish Armada …

Which brings me to the present day. Since 2016 witches have been working together in the thousands against the multi-headed hydra that is the Trump Administration, and now in 2018 against all the evils of the GOP in the Blue Wave movement. Though the culture, place and times have all changed, the theme remains the same: empowering ourselves with magic to fight against tyrannical powers. Though much evil has been committed by Trump and his minions, I like to think that the collective binding is doing what it can in keeping the presidential usurper powerless to destroy us. And now with the noted success of the Blue Wave movement (though much work still needs to be done), the corrupt GOP will no longer hold full power over our government. That is a sign of our success.

This time it’s not as simple as protecting an island from an invading force—we are working against powers of evil that are woven into the fabric of our own society, and that is much more difficult than shooing away some wooden ships. When people feel helpless and disenfranchised, they turn to magic for empowerment. That is why I have always admired the magic of Afro-Carribean traditions: Voudon, Yoruba, Santeria, Conjure, and so on. The struggle of those peoples, the anger of oppression, the cries for justice and the devoted appeal to their gods for help are what gives their magic such power! That is the caliber of magic we will need in America to defeat these bastards who have stolen our political machinery for their own gain.

These examples from history serve to inspire me when the battle gets tough. If you’re not pissed off by now, why not?! Get the fuck up and keep hexing the Right!

For Sale: Neopaganism “As Is”

Master herbalist and historian of magic, Sarah Anne Lawless, has written a detailed article about the false origins and current state of Neopaganism (including modern areligious magicians) in the world today. From the failure of the American Council of Witches and the money-grabbing tactics of Llewellyn, to the crime of spiritual/cultural appropriations so many magical practitioners are guilty of in these times. Most important to me is her expert distinction between actual tradition and “fakelore”–shit that is made up by witches and passed on as if it were ancient! This ties into another theme she’s written about here and what I have also touched on in the BoF, escapism. Neopaganism today is not the fairy tale “religion” many wish it was. Go read this article yourself because it is something that needs to be said!