A Spell of Astral Travel in the Italian Tradition

Italian traditional witchcraft, la stregheria, is an amalgamation of centuries of influence from all corners of the Mediterranean. By the Middle Ages, it had been re-planted in the Christian tradition. But its roots are massively ancient–built upon the remnants of the old religio romana, and infused during the days of the empire with elements from Grecian and Egyptian magical systems. I recently came across this clandestine rite intended to transport the magical practitioner to the Italian city of Benevento, known since the 13th century as an infamous gathering place for witches sabbats.

Witches’ Sabbath, Francisco Goya (1798)

As in other traditions, the crossroads is a typical place where the magician may encounter spirits with whom to do their working. Here he would place offerings to the dead and to the goddess Hecate. Mulled wine and grain, and the meat of a pig respectively. Once offered, the magician summons the goddess and asks that a portal be opened allowing passage between the worlds.
On the ground, he marks out a five-pointed star facing Westward. At each point placing a lit candle, and a skeleton key at the center. Gazing at the key unto the point of trance, gently he blows across each flame three times saying:

Sotto aero e sopra vento
Sotto acqua e sotto vento
Menami la noce Benevento

Then he immediately picks up the key in his left hand, closing his eyes and slowly exhaling. While exhaling, he imagines the star opening as a doorway, allowing himself to enter into and move through the portal. The magician finds himself surrounded by the stars of the night sky, moving through them and flying over the land, the sea and the mountains. He finds a clearing lit by torches, and, exhaling, descends himself to rest near the walnut tree at Benevento. This is the gathering place of the witches who have come to feast and revel with the gods.
The magician, visualizing, sees a banquet table filled with food. Others come to join him. He continues feasting, making merry and observing all the goings-on around him. As torches process away, he sees in the distance an ornate throne sitting at the base of the walnut tree. Upon the throne is seated the Great Sabbatic Goat, the Horned One. The crown of his head is lit with a torch, and this is flanked by two great horns. This is the Lord of Nature, Pan himself. The banqueters gather around the one enthroned to dance, their vigor inflamed by the wine and food. The magician moves himself about, all the while dancing and watching around him as the dancing turns into a Bacchic frenzy.
Suddenly the magician sees a person standing behind the Black Goat, offering a fig to eat. This fig is the symbol of these hidden mysteries. He takes it and eats it, the culmination of this strange communion.

Description de L’Assemblee des Sorciers qu’on Appelle Sabbat (1735)

When he has decided the time has come to leave, the magician summons his five-pointed star portal again, and pronounces his enchantment to return:

Sotto aero e sopra vento
Sotto acqua e sotto vento
Portami via da Benevento

Again he perceives the opening of the stellar portal, and, slowly inhaling and lifting his arms aloft, is surrounded by the stars of night, his soul flying swiftly through the air and over the world below. Finally exhaling, his arms slowly lowered to the ground, he opens his eyes to his return back the crossroads from whence he first departed.

“To journey to the walnut tree is to awaken the Primal Conscious, through which the ancient forms reconnect. It is a return to the Old Ones known to our ancestors before the world was reshaped by human minds. In ancient times, the serpent was venerated at the site of the tree. The serpent has always been the revealer of truth, the enlightener, and the guardian of the seed of light. The seed that lies under the protection of the serpent gives way to the grand harvest. Thus are the cakes and wine featured at the Sabbat banquet. For it is here that one comes to know that within, which is of the eternal Gods.” – From To Fly By Night, The Craft of the Hedgewitch

Walpurgisnacht Eve MMXIX, A.S. LIII

Walpurgisnacht is here again! While chosen as the date of Anton LaVey’s Church of Satan, it has been known for centuries in Europe as Witches’ Night. On that night, the Satanic witches were said to gather in their Sabbats on mountaintops and other savage places to dance, revel and worship  the Devil their Lord.
This year, just as we did last year, we will celebrate The Black Mass of Desecration, only now in an even grander fashion. Thanks to the work on this site, as well as the foundation of the new coven, this year’s mass will be larger, more spectacular, and ever more indulgent!


Treasures of John Dee, The British Museum

My recent trip to London included many points of historical interest, especially the day I spent strolling through the British Museum. I had one object in mind, however, as I was searching through the Enlightenment Gallery, the magical shew-stone of John Dee. This piece of polished obsidian likely came to England after the exploits in Mexico of the conquistador Hernan Cortez.
Dr. John Dee (likely an inspiration for Shakespeare’s Prospero) was known across Europe both as the astrologer for Mary I and Elizabeth I, but also for his spirit work with the notorious Edward Kelley. Together they used their magical expertise to contact the Enochian spirits, whose language and alphabet Kelley scried and Dee transcribed. The Enochian language is said to contain great power and its full meaning remains mysterious even today. Still over the centuries many great magicians used Enochian magic in their work: Crowley, Mathers, and even Anton LaVey.
To look into this same mirror with my own eyes, to see my own reflection looking back through it, was a profound moment in my own life as a student and historian of magic–also as a disciple of John Dee!

John Dee’s mirror, and me, being touristy AF


The powerful Sigillum Dei Aemeth casually sitting in a display case among thousands of other treasures


Portrait of John Dee from the Wellcome Collection

Timothy Wyllie – Ketamine Lord

Timothy Wyllie’s life is proof that in order to become a great wizard, you have to alter your mind in drastic ways–usually to the point that you no longer even identify with the profane world at all. Having recently spent some more time learning about his life, he strikes me as the spiritual son of Dr. John Dee as well as Dr. Alexander Shulgin. A bit more about his mystical life comes from this eulogy by Erica Robinson of Inner Traditions:

It is with sadness that we report the passing of author Timothy Wyllie on Wednesday, October 4th. Born in 1940, Timothy was a great soul, forever changed by his near-death experience in 1973. A former member of the Process Church known for his appearances on Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia on Viceland Video, he spent the years after his NDE studying communication with non-human intelligences, such as Dolphins, ETs, and Angels. In 2011, with the publication of The Return of the Rebel Angels, he began to share his collected wisdom on the rebel angels as well as that of his own guardian angel, Georgia, an angel of Seraphic status. Georgia came to the fore with the publication of Timothy’s next book, Confessions of a Rebel Angel(2012), which Georgia channeled through Timothy. Their shared story has continued through several other books: Revolt of the Rebel Angels (2013), Rebel Angels in Exile (2014), Wisdom of the Watchers (2015), Awakening of the Watchers (2016), and Secret History of the Watchers (due out in 2018).

Watch the full episode of Hamilton’s Pharmacopeia, which features Wyllie, at Vice

Hold Please…

There are many developments in the BoF area of my life that are currently going on behind the scenes, many of which I hope readers will soon enjoy.

  • A new page just for my Satanic stained glass work, which will also be available on my Etsy store.
  • Development of a new local queer coven, which so far is going swimmingly!
  • A totally free online library containing selected grimoires and magical texts, just for you!
  • Travel to London for my ongoing research in Elizabethan magic. I’ll be in London the first week of March.
    • I’ll be visiting the Wellcome Library (home of many of the primary sources mentioned on this site).
    • I’ll be stopping by Watkins Books on 2nd March followed by a little get-together at Hand of Glory in Hackney. Feel free to say hello!

In the meantime, here is a very cute and homoerotic webcomic called Tobias & Guy. 😉




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The Coven and the Blood Moon

Sunday, January 20th MMXIX. Full Moon in Leo

Last Sunday, the coven I belong to, who you may remember from A Vision of Satan, A Night of Magic, hosted a fantastic Lunar Eclipse party for friends and the public. It was a blustery, cold and cloudy day and we were afraid the moon would be hidden all night. However as the time came to perform our Eclipse ritual, the sky quickly opened up to reveal the moon shining brightly on a perfectly clear night. It is very difficult to write a ritual for the general public, most of whom are non-magical thinkers but I think we did well.

Photo by Book of Faustus

We presented a nondenominational symbolic Drawing Down of the Moon, whose persona our lovely coven member Diana was gracious enough to take on. This included a dance of the planets who aligned into a Lunar Eclipse formation. The attendees blessed themselves with eclipse water, and cast their intentions into the cauldron to be burned. We had an attendance of about 40 people.

Lovely Diana dancing in the moonlight.

In the middle of the ritual, we looked up to see the shadow of the Earth cast sharply onto the now crescent Moon. At that moment, I had a sense I was standing on the top of the whole world, and the great scope of local cosmic space was revealed to me. The Moon before me, the Sun behind me, and the whole sphere of the Earth below me. We were all aligned.
The rest of the night was spent partying, watching the eclipse unfold with telescopes and cameras, and getting real fucked up in the smoking tent. After the group dwindled down, and the eclipse was still in motion, a smaller group of us performed the ritual binding of Donald Trump, with great effect.
If you’re feeling nosy, you can enjoy these timelapses of the ritual and a birds eye view of the party, which was in my own back yard. These are 360 videos that are best viewed in the YouTube app.