Samuel De Wilde, c. 1766-1805
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In part 2 of this series, I explore why a practice of magic is a better descriptor of what magic is, as well as more inclusive, then a literacy of magic.
In my previous post, I explained how literacy is an institution, and how a literacy of magic would be an extension of the institution of literacy, in the sense that a given institution typically determines who is or isn’t included in the institution and also establishes what constitutes institutional legitimate actions vs actions which don’t fit into the institution. I explored why I felt literacy is a loaded term and why it can be problematic to apply it as a concept to magic. I also explored how trying to define magic as a literacy would inevitably end up excluding certain people or practices because of the institutional aspects of literacy. In the 2nd post to this series, I’m going to explain why the literacy of magic isn’t the same as the practice of magic and why it is more useful to examine magic as a practice instead of as a literacy.
Day 1: What lead you to start practicing witchcraft?
A lot of things co-spired to make me who I am today. But nothing has been more influential than my family. Most of my family is interested in esoteric matters and practice some form of magic. My Grandmother came to her esoteric spirituality through her entry into the New Thought movement in the late 1960s and she brought my aunts, uncle and father into the movement too. My mother found her interest at a psychic fair in the 1970’s. The rest is a series of spells and well… history.
At a young age, my mother taught me energy work and protections and simple, but strong spell work. My brother and I both took a very young interest in witchcraft. But neither of us really knew a thing about until high school. And I didn’t do anything much with it til University when I got really into my Irish heritage and took courses in Celtic Mythology, where I met some witches.
But more than anything, I picked up and stuck with witchcraft, because my magic worked. I got the results I was seeking and I kept practicing.
I once asked him what his opinion was concerning Whitchcraft; whether there was any such thing? Hee told me he believed there was not. I asked him what induced him to be of that opinion? He told me that when he was at Newmercat with the King, he heard there was a woman who dwelt at a lone house on the borders of the Heath, who was reputed to be a Witch; that he went alone to her, and found her alone at home, alighted, and went into the house to her. Hee said shee was very distrustful at first; but when he told her he was a vizard, and came purposefully to converse with her in thier common trade, then shee easily believed him; for say’d hee to mee, “You know I have a very magical face,: and looking upon mee and gathering up his face, I indeed thought hee had.
Dr Harvey asked where her familiar was? And desired to see him. Shee immediately fetched a little milk, and put it in a flat dish, and went to a chest and chucked with her mouth, as toades doe when they call one another; and immediately a toad came from under the chest, and drunk some of the milke. He sayd it was enough, and caused her to take awaye the dish before the toad had done, and asked the woman whether she had any ale to sell, for they, beinge Brother and Sister , must drink together. She sayd there was ale to be sold about half a mile thence; he desired her to go to fetch some, whilst he stayed, and gave her a shilling; away she went for the ale. Hee tooke some milke, when she was a goode ways on her way, went to the chest and chuked as shee did, the toade came out. His tongues (*)were ready in his hand, he catched up the toad in them; his dissecting knife was ready alsoe, he opened the toades belly, out came the milk. He examined the toades entrails, heart and lungs, and it no ways differed from other toades. Of which hee had dissected may of, ergo it was a playne naturall toad. The old woman was melancholy and poore; fond the toad some evening abroad eating spiders, for hungry toades will eat spiders and other reptiles or insects carried it home, made it tame by feeding it, and so it became a spirit, and that spirit a familiar. From hence he concludes there are no witches very logically; his argument was this—A woman had a tame toade, which she believed to bee a spirit and her familiar, the toad upon dissection proved an arrant natural toad, and had really eaten the milk, and not in ap- (pg 407) pearance onely, therefore there are no witches. The good Doctor, upon the woman’s returne, who found him busy in observing what the toad would doe in the pickle hee had put him in, was in danger to have a more magical face then hee had before, and habit too; the woman let or rather threw down the pitcher of ale, flew like a tigris at his face; ‘twas well hee had nothing but bare bones and tough tanned skin, neyther hair nor bearde, and twas well his eyes were out of reach, well guarded with prominent bones, otherwise it had gone ill with him; but for his short very short old black coat, that that scaped not so well, that pay’d for killing the poor woman’s Divell. The Doctor intreeted fairly, offered money, would have persuaded ‘twas not a Divell, but meer toad. That way not prevailing, hee turned his tale, say’d hee was the King’s Phisitian, sent by the King to discover whether indeed shee was a witch; if a witch, to have her apprehended; if not, to undeceave her, if hee could. The name of the King, and the word apprehending, brought her into a netter temper; and after having been called 1000 old cheating rogues, and as many times freely given to the Devill, the Doctor got away; tolde the Kinge, whose leave he had to go upon the expedition, the whole story, which which was a paleasnt entertaynment for that good King at his dinner. I did know the Doctor’s temper well, and that it did not much concern me wht opion he was of in that point. I onely say’d, “I think I have heard their Spirits have recourse to toades or other animals (which the witches keep and feed) at set times, or wherefore Spirits are called upon extraordinary occasions, but doe not exert then constantly, for then the poor divells would have a very bad time of it.” I am certayne this, for an argument against Spirits or witchcraft, is the best and most experimentall I ever heard, and as logically managed as I ever expect to have any. Pardon this long trouble, I beseech you, Sr, and bee pleased to believe there is no one honours you more than, Reverent Sr., [no name.] (pg 408) – The Gentleman’s Magazine Published by F. Jefferies [etc.], 1832. Item notes: v.102 pt.1 1832
Note: (*) Tongs
…I tried to read them for annotation purposes, but my deities were poking me in the side and saying ‘this ain’t worth your time when you could actually be doing magic.’
Wisdom right here ^
Solar Eclipse 2012
Barry Moser, Angel of the Apocalypse
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