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:
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:
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.
The Limbourg brothers (who likely died of plague) were famous for their inventive use of bold colors, including the blue featured in this folio, which was actually made from dust of lapis lazuli in gum arabic.
“Him the Almighty Power
Hurled headlong flaming from th’ ethereal sky
With hideous ruin and combustion down
To bottomless perdition, there to dwell
In adamantine chains and penal fire,
Who durst defy th’ Omnipotent to arms.” – John Milton, Paradise Lost
This 18th century grimoire on black magic is attributed to St. Cyprian, the north African Berber bishop of late antiquity who was definitely no magician (or the Grecian mage who was stolen by Christianity?). The text is presented in macaronic Latin, Hebrew and trans. fluvii hijacked from Agrippa (XVI CE). It is also said to belong to the famed Black School of Wittenburg, but who has said that remains unclear. Taking a brief look at the drawings and texts, and given the unknown origin and author, my best guess is that his book is a total fraud—a showpiece for some eccentric collector to flash at parties to create an allure. The text does contain pretty straightforward content, but none of it is really original. If this is a genuine grimoire, it is useless! There are no contemporary references to the document at all, which gives me pause. There is a promising book about this grimoire and Cyprian’s magic I might try to pick up.
An interesting and poetic take on the relationship between humans and plants that can harm as well as heal. More interesting however is the way in which folklore has associated many of these plants with the powers of evil—not only poisons but helpful plants have been maligned because of traditional uses by the cunning folk. The author, Corinne Boyer, invites you to explore your own relationship with these plants, learning from them not only through praxis but also meditative contemplation of their lives and spirits.