adapted from The Dragon Book of Essex (excerpt: I of IV)
I. The First Call: Petition
Myself to myself I offer, this Holy Rite to begin. By Lightning-bolt, by Flaming Torch, by the Serpent’s Fire within: Let all that I have attained in eternity be manifest in the Present Moment of I: Absolute.
O’ Azra-Lumial! Angelick Soul of the Master Cain! Initiator of the Draconist Mystery, Opener of the Gates to the Crooked Path! Hear my call, for I entreat Thee! The vessel of the Heart is opened unto Thee!
Behold I stand alone in Void, within the Empty Circle of the Royal Arte; My Lover’s Call goeth forth to Thee, O’ Angel of the Peacock-quill! The Lamp of the Hermit awaits the Flame of Thy Presence: My Heart awaits the Adamantine Light of Thy initiation!
O’ Az’ra-Lumial! Solely Manifest of the Eleven Elder Gods, Thou are XON: Light from all Nullity revealed unto Man. Thou art the Begetter of the Four Sovereign Watchers and The Sixteen Faithful Gods.
As Man thou art born – fire amidst clay – from their wiseblood and cunning seed; Self-from self, eight times Thou art begotten on the Wheel of The Year and a Day.
O’ Az’ra-Lumial, descend as Flesh, the Living Word; The One of Light, seven times adorned in the rainbow’s promise!
O’ Az’ra-Lumiel, arise as Gnosis, the Mind of Heaven: The Great Dragon, seven-headed, crowned and victorious!
(Petition I of VI)
“The text of this Rite is adapted from The Draconian Grimoire or Dragon Book of Essex… The version of the ritual presented here is newly adapted for The Book of Fallen Angels in dedication to Michael Howard.”
These are my current views on the matter of witchcraft, based on studies, relationships, conversations and practices over the last few years. This was initially a much shorter Facebook post that has since become untenably long for it, so here it lies. I should start by saying that my intention is not to disparage whatever beliefs others hold with regards to it, as I myself accept that these “truths” are only as good as the next door that they lead us to.
One could hardly produce a useful definition of witchcraft without first acknowledging that it is not singular. For instance, what is widely recognised as Traditional Witchcraft is an aggregate of practices and beliefs originated in Europe, and the label could be reasonably applied to various traditions stemming from that region. The misnomer led many to think that it is a more authentic form of Craft (though probably most of these traditions are when compared to certain contemporary fabrications born with convenience in mind) than what is found elsewhere. To that I say that it befits pursuers to be aware that there are living forms of Craft to be found elsewhere in the world, each with particulars that make them uniquely suited to certain temperaments, all presenting interesting commonalities where what is essential is revealed.
At its most general, the work of witchcraft is marked by an initial union between a person and a spirit. There seems to me to be little other than goals separating it from the undertaking of priesthood in certain mainstream religions. Methodologies do vary, but ideology, not underlying themes, is for the most part what separates the two. In both cases, an alliance is sought so the person is rendered capable of interacting with the otherworld in a particular manner. Andrew D. Chumbley in Opuscula Magica Vol. I explains this process quite excellently. He describes various forms of passing of power by grant upon ingress into a lineage, or through solitary rites. In the latter case a form of taking by a spirit leads to power imparted, or an awakening of power already living in one’s blood. I share the belief that in whichever way it occurs, this is a fundamental component that separates witchcraft from folk magic. The bounties from this union will then fuel gestures, words, and ritual, and these provide the power with a voice, rather than a fixed set of protocols being key as is implied in ceremonial traditions such as Solomonic magic.
In “learned” traditions of magic, each instrument is rigorously made so they can play a part in influencing the forces involved in a certain manner, whereas the witch seeks to embody said forces (through actual reception in the body and in dreams), the voice then becoming wand, circle, and blade. By this I don’t mean to suggest that this is more efficient, or that witchcraft doesn’t use tools, as that is not necessarily the case, but to clarify how and why its methods can appear lacking when contrasted with more systematic approaches found in the aforementioned ceremonial systems. Though this separation between the two should also not be taken as constant. I have suggested elsewhere that the retreat undertaken by the legendary King Solomon as told in the Exhortation to Rehoboam is a perfect description of a solitary initiation in which authority is imparted by a spirit to access others, and in my opinion it reveals an important but often neglected part of the tradition.
Witchcraft is a magical response to oppression, and to a need for protection. For that reason it has been done in secret not only in the past but continuously so in places where violence against those who engage in “unsanctioned spirituality” is still real. This is important from more than a social point of view; it shapes its theology and practices. Its gods are opposers by virtue of their empowering nature, which is poison to the State, institutionalised religion, and other forms of captivity. Rebellion (and retribution) has often been the soil where it is rooted in, and hence its manifestation as a dark practice where attributes such as bones, blood, sacrifice, and aggressive aspects of nature are present. It seeks understanding where some see taboo. Fallen angels, the mysteries of demons, sex, the transformation of death and beyond, these and other topics are explored to different degrees in various strains, and herein lies my own motivation for seeking it. My vision of Western ceremonial magic has always been a complicated one of simultaneously agreeing with the principles of what constitute real spirit contact but refusing the isolationist approach as a blind that gets in the way of effectiveness.
I hope this brief summary serves to inspire suitors and/or to bring further observations on the matter.
A few works by
Andrew D. Chumbley (1967- 2004). Mr. Chumbley was a practitioner and theorist of magick, poet, artist and magister of the Cultus Sabbati. The Dragon Book of Essex and The Azoëtia
are two of his writings about the art of magick.
Here is the Path written in blood, blood fresh fallen from the Stars in their seasons, fallen to the opened hearts of Those who look beyond both themselves and the Stars in heaven. That which is seen is not that which should be sought. Seek it in the Pearl that is set upon the Dragon’s brow.
“It is typical of genuine Cunning-folk to utilise whatever is closest at hand and to turn all influences, irrespective of religious provenance, to the secret purposes of the Arte. It is therefore that the Old Craft embraces for itself an array of attitudes and methods, ranging from the simple matters of spell-craft to the highest ceremonial forms of conjuration. In all contexts one may find pieces of magical lore and belief from many disparate times and places, but all are brought to function within the trans-historical arena of the sacred dimension, whether it be the magical circle of Witcherie or the ninefold plot of Sigaldry. From out of its roots in folk-magic, in all of its many aspects, the form of the Traditional Craft is continually evolving, and it is in this respect that one may perceive the trajectories of its own possibilities. The spiritual landscape of the Arte is being moulded, through the power of its own current, by a potent aesthetic of mythopoetic eclecticism; its rich variety of ancestral lore is achieving a new definition of form, culminating in the refinement of a profound metaphysic of ecstasy: the true wisdom-teaching of magical gnosis.”
–Andrew D. Chumbley, What is Traditional Craft? A Brief Discourse regarding the nature of Traditional Witchcraft and allied forms of Magical Practic
‘Whatever the temporal or legal implications of your beliefs are, you must accept responsibility for them here and now, as well as upon the spiritual, moral, and intellectual levels. Be aware that the actions of a single magician can reflect upon everyone of Our Arte, and if you haven’t the honour or the moral sensibilities to cope with the implications of your beliefs then you are not a magician of any sort, you are a coward. As such, you are thus unworthy of any claim to be a True Pagan.’
~ Andrew D. Chumbley.
The Question of Sacrifice, Opuscula Magica, Vol. 1
In the Primordium of Thought, so in the Ocean of Our Blood, there is a Unity of Language, of Speech and of Script: the Alphabet of the Wise. It springs forth from the primal atavistic impulse of I: the Spirit that pervades all Nature, call’d ‘Magick’. Its Vision originates in, and perpetually returns to, the comprehension of Existence as a Whole. It is born of the common embrace of Life and Death by the Pure of Heart and Eye.
‘Like a child, first gazing into a looking-glass, perplexed at the mimicking twin who dances and gestures - and ‘lives’ - on the other side, we often mistake the reflections of our own spiritual condition for a truthful understanding of an external world around us, misunderstanding the lessons which the masquerade of Solitude brings before us. How often we make masks and costumes for our gods in our own likenesses; how often we paint the hosts of heaven with our own shadow-play, joining star unto star, belief unto to belief, in configurations born wholly of our own affinities. Indeed, there are veils upon veils which reveal to us our own arcana, but which - if falsely taken as a final comprehension of the ‘truth’ conceal from us that which we aspire to seek. Wisely we must make our way through the maze of mirror’d altars.’
~ Andrew D. Chumbley, Seven Shades of Solitude, Opuscula Magica, Vol. 2
* Illustration by Andrew Chumbley and found on the internet.
“The Opposer is the god-form of transgression; it personifies the essential ethos of the Crooked Path and is the totem of the sorcerous mentality. Its double-form is perceived in contemplating the two sides of a knife edge or the bifurcation of a serpent’s tongue. One may discuss the double-form in dualistic positive/negative terms or in male/female polarized terms. In the former mode the positive form is the attitude adopted by the sorcerer in order to be at one with a given environment of belief, that is, to use the surroundings, irrespective of their nature, as the vehicle of one’s path. The negative form is the conscious inversion of the forms of belief which are imposed upon oneself from outside and the use of their inverse forms as the vehicle of one’s path. The key is alternation between the two forms according to the needs of the sorcerer. In simple and illustrative terms: the positive application of the Opposer allows one to move unseen within any given environment of belief and to utilize it without incongruency, either within one’s own internal belief structure or in the system within which one is moving. The negative application liberates one from the imposition of belief-forms upon one’s perceptual purity by the deliberate over-turning of those imposed forms; the inverse belief-forms being taken as the expression of one’s own intent. An understanding of this secret reveals one reason why the Sabbatic Initiate could utilize the demonic symbology imposed upon the strata of folk-magic during the Inquisition; it also reveals why such an initiate could go to a Christian church without offence to himself or any others. One should bear in mind that the two forms or modes of praxis are means to the realization of the Opposer as the Force which transgresses all Nature.”
– Andrew D. Chumbley, “The Sabbatic Cultus: an Interview with Andrew D. Chumbley" by Robert Fitzferald; Opuscula Magica Vol. 2
”…the Crooked Path may be seen as a perpetual dance between the stations of Holiness and Heresy, Tradition and the Deviation of the Path. Each momentary stance must be held in equipoise, the practitioner fully aware of the summit of its potentials, as well as their weaknesses, ultimately knowing that meditative integration will render all duality false and illusory.“
– Daniel A. Schulke, Foreward to Opuscula Magica Vol. 2
This manifest realization is something which has greatly impacted and fueled my sorcerous work in such ways as its realignment of personal praxis and as the vehicle for change I work to embody.