This is a post a long time in the making, as it is something I’ve wanted to share for a while now, just because it is such an important part of my own craft. There is something truly magical about it and is, for me, something both very humbling and very empowering; as such, it is something that I think is worth sharing.
Foremost, the question to address is: What is ecstatic witchcraft? And one not so easily answered, as there cannot be any one way in which it is performed. It can (I think) be described as a form of trance magic, though its expression is not wholly tied to trance in the traditional sense. In essence, it is a surrendering of self and its simultaneous expression. It is a temporary shedding of the façade one erects to survive, Freud called it the superego and without it, so too falls away the ego. The goal of ecstatic witchcraft – if it can be called a goal – is to allow the id to manifest unencumbered, a means of channeling the primality. Of course, this manifests in innumerable ways and no two sessions would ever be the same, hence why it can be so tricky to pin down precisely.
I’ve found that – and it continues still – that the witchcraft community (predominately) has long perpetuated the notion of control as being paramount to success, and while this may be true to some extent, I believe the converse must also be explored. There is law and there is rigidity, there is correspondence memorization and a lot of book work: and this makes sense! For the last century (and in times before), this has been the main means of information acquisition. While it is not uncommon for witches to join groups, covens, etc., I’m willing to bet that most practicing witches were indoctrinated through solitary study. Again, there is nothing wrong with this, and I, myself, am contributing to this reservoir of written information as I type! But, as I mentioned, while I did my fair share of book work and memorization, the heart of my Craft has always been exploration. Tradition is important, but it’s never been enough for me. I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again: the best way to learn is to do. There will be mistakes; you will come to conclusions only to find things that defy them; you will learn to correct; you will learn to be skeptical, but not judgmental. You will learn there are a thousand purported ‘right’ ways, and then you will find your own. Nothing is static.
How does this relate then, to ecstatic witchcraft? It is a means by which to connect to that instinct: that intuition that drives us – shedding preconceived notions and allowing the opportunity for exploration through action. And action, I feel, is the root of ecstatic magic.
How To Perform Ecstatic Witchcraft
As I mentioned previously, there is no right way and I can only provide to you a number of facets of expression that are conducive to ecstatic witchcraft. These are by no means the only facets, and as always, I encourage you to explore what works for you.
- Speak – It may seem counterintuitive to what I have said,
for is speech not a construct? It is, but there is power in vocalization, even
if speaking unintelligibly. This is an extension of opaque language – or language
spoken ceremonially as a means of excluding those who are not privy to the
religious tongue – and moves into the realm of glossolalia. Rarely do I include
verbal scripts to be read in the things I post, as I find that they detract
from the working themselves, instead encouraging those performing to speak what
comes. This is a more controlled form of ecstatic witchcraft – bound by
intention, time, and often language itself. Here, let all that fall away and
- Move – Ecstatic witchcraft, for me, is all about energy:
movement, especially. It is best not to go into it with any plan, simply follow
where your body takes you. If it says run, run; if it says dance, dance; if it says
squat and howl like a wolf, by gods do it! It is for this and many reasons that
ecstatic magic should be done in a controlled setting, normally somewhere safe –
but I should mention, this need not be done alone! Ecstatic witchcraft can just
as easily be done in groups, though it can get a little more dangerous,
considering the id is often noted as
being the seat of sexuality and aggression. I also recommend putting sharp
objects away – you never know what the hype might bring – but hey, sometimes
you just really need to throw a knife; perform responsibly.
- Draw/Write – Admittedly, some of my coolest and most
profound sigils have come from ecstatic sessions! There is something in me that
always wants to take chalk and just go to town on every surface around –
overtaken by mania. Automatic writing is related, in some ways, though often it
is used with intent: channeling a specific spirit, deity, etc. Ecstatic magic
requires no such formalities, bending to the whims of all and none, the witch
is then but an instrument of the spirit: of the cosmos.
- Laugh – Laughter is powerful.
- Instruments – If you have at your disposal some musical
instruments (I prefer maracas and tambourines), bring them in! And forget what
you think you know about music, just roll with it. Hell, if you want to
continuously shake a maraca and scream with one foot in the air, do it. Again,
it’s all about energy, and instruments bring their own, unique vibes to the
Entheogens – *at your own risk; use responsibly* Sure, they might compromise some of the safety, but they also bring an entirely new level of exploration. For some. My use of entheogens in the past have always been hit-or-miss; sometimes they are conducive and other times they are hampering. Know what works for you, and be careful: you don’t want to show up at the nearest E.R. naked, tripping on an unknown substance with a painted face and defiantly shaking a maraca.
Sex – This harkens back to what I said about working in groups, sometimes there is a power in it, and the same can be said for adding sex in. When working with others, always plan for the possibility of sex! Especially with who you invite in, and in regards to safety. I don’t know the last time it was used, but the “It was for ecstatic witchcraft” excuse will not hold up: while it may sound like a damper, J.I.C. consent agreements and activity do’s and don’t’s should always be agreed upon beforehand, and should always be open to amendment. If you really want to, draw a circle: anyone who leaves it is has removed themselves from the session and should not be addressed until they reenter of their own accord.
With that, I hope it is becoming clear what ecstatic witchcraft is (or can be), its benefits and how it isn’t really all that new a concept. It is, for me, a profound experience every time – I come out feeling energized, powerful, but also with a new frame of mind, having shed societal constriction and attuned with both the divine and animalistic parts of myself – if even for a moment. In that it is humbling, and it is empowering.