Sea Witchery: a Brief Overview
At the request of so many followers, I have decided to mock up a little bit of information on Sea Magick and Sea Witchery. This is just a brief overview to give you some information when wanting to research or begin working with the ocean, storms, the tides, and the many creatures associated with the sea.
However, I will caution you that the many sea creatures (especially the Merfolk) are not very forgiving creatures, thus they can be pretty tough to handle for beginner, baby witches. It takes an experience sea hag to get them to cooperate properly, so keep this in mind when studying them.
Once again, this is a brief overview and introduction to my craft and path. if you have any questions, you can direct them to me via PM or ASK.
Let’s get started!
WHAT IS A SEA WITCH?
Traditionally, sea witches are witches who appear among sailors or others involved in the seafaring trade. Sea witches use witchcraft related to the moon, tides, and the weather, and are believed to have complete control over the seas. Many sailors fell prey to the sea witches curse on ships and were finally delivered to the one who rules all. In some folklore, sea witches are described as phantoms, ghosts,or in the form of a mermaid. These creatures would then have the power to control the fates of ships and seamen.
As the name implies, sea witches are believed to be able to control many aspects of nature relating to water, most commonly the ocean or sea. However, in more modern times, sea witches can also practice witchcraft on or near any source of water: lakes, rivers, bath tubs, or even simply a bowl of salt water.
In addition to their powers over water, sea witches could often control the wind. A common feature of many tales was a rope tied into three knots, which witches often sold to sailors to aid them on a voyage. Pulling the first knot could yield a gentle, southeasterly wind, while pulling two could generate a strong northerly wind.
Sea witches often improvise on what they have, rather than making purchases from a store or from another person. Common tools include clam, scallop, or oyster shells in place of bowls or cauldrons. Other items include seaweed, fishing net, shells, sea grass, driftwood, pieces of sea glass, and even sand.
Other types of titles they use are: sirens, water witches, storm witches, and sea hags.
DO SEA WITCHES HAVE CERTAIN PERSONALITY TRAITS?
Eh, there isn’t really a specific type of person the sea calls to, however I have met many sea witches that would be described as walking contradictions. Much like the sea, we can be quite flexible, but also forceful. Moods tend to fluctuate with the tides and lunar cycle. Hags both enjoy and love music and poetry; are quite expressive with their emotions, but also don’t easily award entry into their hearts; and can easily win the attention of a crowd, but then seek solitude in the comfort of their own homes. You would be hard-pressed to find a stagnant sea witch–they’ll always be on the move, searching and discovering. However, be warned: if you fall in love with one you must understand that a sea hag’s heart belongs to the Sea first and foremost, forever and always, and it calls to them over the span of lifetimes.
WHERE DOES THEIR POWER COME FROM?
For the most part, sea witches draw their power directly from the source: the Ocean. You’ll find that many of them, even landlocked sea hags, have trinkets from the shore and enjoy baths, storms, and the moonlight. Of course, there are many different kinds of sea witches all over the world and it really just depends on what seafaring folk culture they subscribe to that determines their power source.
DO SEA WITCHES HAVE SPECIFIC DEITIES THEY WORSHIP?
I am not even lying–there are HUNDREDS upon HUNDREDS of water and sea deities that sea witches call upon for aid and worship. Probably the most popular would be Poseidon, Neptune, Lir, Gong-Gong, Hapi, Sobek, Agwé, Aegaeon, Delphin, the Gorgons, Samundra, Pariacaca, Watatsumi, Rongomai, Njord, Nix, and even Davey Jones.
One of the beauties of being a sea witch is that you can call on many ancient and powerful deities to aid you in your craft. However, I do advise that you make sure that these deities do not come from a culture/religion/belief system that is closed. You can check out a full list of water/sea/storm deities here.
WHAT ARE SOME TOOLS SEA WITCHES USE?
*TAKES A DEEP BREATH*
Water (salt, fresh, or storm), sand, sea shells and cockles, sea glass, driftwood, ship wood, compasses, maps, mirrors, bowls and chalices, sea weed, sea grass, fish and fish bones, coral, telescopes, sand dollars, pearls, bath salts/bombs/goodies, sea salt, linen, umbrellas and mops, windchimes, ropes, weather vanes, and blood are just some of the few tools we use in our practice.
TELL US ABOUT MERMAIDS!
The Mer or Merfolk are probably one of the more popular topics when it comes to sea witchery. I get questions all the time like “DO YOU TALK TO MERMAIDS?” or “HOW CAN I GET A MERMAID TO BEFRIEND ME?” or “AREN’T MERMAIDS JUST THE COOLEST?”
The Merfolk are an integral part of sea witch culture, but they aren’t the end all be all when it comes to water spirits/fae/demons/entities. There are so many to work with and all have interesting backstories. But let’s talk about the Merfolk for a moment…
Depending to what you school you subscribe to, the Merfolk (also known as mermaids) could be fae, demon, or simply water spirits. Some believe that the Merfolk are a species of kithain (also known as changeling or fae.) Ancient and unknowable, the Merfolk pose something of a problem to both fae and human alike. The arrogance of the mer is tempered only by their truly alien natures. The Merfolk claim that they are the sole legacy of the Tuatha De Danann, the oldest fae on Earth, dreamed long before any human ever set foot on land. When curious people ask how this could be, the merfolk are disconcertingly vague and ambiguous.
As I have stated before on the blog, the Merfolk are certainly an odd lot. The product of a totally alien mindset, the mer are simultaneously deadly, serious and playful, highly ritualized and completely free spirited, repressed and yet libidinous as a drunken prom date. The first thing one will notice about a mer is his incredible arrogance. Of course, as far as they are concerned, they have every right to be arrogant. After all, in their minds, they do rule the world.
Other mythologies tell us that mermaids are the bane of seamen. These half-fish, half-women lured countless sailors to their deaths. Breathtakingly beautiful humans from their torso-upwards, their lower bodies where those of fish, complete with scales. Men find their songs irresistible and follow them willingly into the sea. Mermaids can be caught and held in exchange for the wishes they grant. The males of the species, Mermen, are regarded as vicious creatures who raised storms for the purpose of sinking men’s ships. Occasionally they are successfully courted by human men. The offspring of such pairings are often granted great powers in healing by their mothers.
In short, mermaids are extremely beautiful, temperamental, powerful, and dangerous. They are not to be confused with Sirens, either, and find contempt at the very accusation. I will probably go into more detail about Merfolk magic in a different post.
WHAT ARE OTHER WATER SPIRITS THAT WE CAN WORK WITH?
Again, like the deities, there are so many different kinds of water spirits and this topic in of itself could be an entire article. So, here is a brief list and some traits about my favorites…
SIRENSIn Greek mythology, the Sirens (Greek singular: Σειρήν Seirēn; Greek plural: Σειρῆνες Seirēnes) were dangerous creatures, who lured nearby sailors with their enchanting music and voices to shipwreck on the rocky coast of their island. Roman poets placed them on some small islands called Sirenum scopuli. In some later, rationalized traditions, the literal geography of the “flowery” island of Anthemoessa was somewhere tucked in a cape, with rocky shores and cliffsides.
Sirens were believed to combine women and birds in various ways. In early Greek art, Sirens were represented as birds with large women’s heads, bird feathers and scaly feet. Later, they were represented as female figures with the legs of birds, with or without wings, playing a variety of musical instruments, especially harps.
UNDINESThese are the elemental spirits of water. Their magic centers upon this element, whose course and function they can control. Undines exist within the water itself and cannot be seen with normal human vision. Their homes are typically within the coral caves in lakes or upon the banks of rivers, though smaller undines may choose to live under lily pads. Their appearance is similar to human beings in most cases, with the exception of those living in smaller streams or ponds. Undine clothing is shimmery, reflecting all the colors of water though green is typically the predominant color.Every body of water is home to undines, from ocean waves, to rocky pools, to marshlands, to rivers, to lakes and ponds. Even waterfalls and fountains have an undine living in their midst.
SELKIESThe shapeshifting selkies, who are also known as silkies or roane (Gaelic for seal), occupy the seas surrounding the Orkney and Shetland isles. The exact nature of their undersea world is uncertain, though some believe it to be encased in giant air bubbles. Their true forms are those of faeries or humans, though they take the form of large seals when traveling the through the oceans. In particular: great seals and grey seals are said to take human forms. Older tales tell that selkies are only able to take on human forms on certain nights of the year, such as Midsummer’s Eve or All Hallows.
Occasionally they encounter humankind, sometimes becoming their mates. A human male may take a selkie female as his wife if he finds her seal skin on the beach and hides it from her. In the end she always recovers the skin and returns to the sea, though she may return occasionally to watch over her human family from the safety of the waves.
A human woman may bear the child of a selkie male if she weeps seven tears or seven drops of blood in the nighttime sea. Such relationships are rarely lasting. Seven years hence, the selkie would return for his child, offering the mother a fee for nursing her own babe.
BEANSIDHE/BANSHEEOne of the most dreaded and best known of the Irish faeries is the Banshee, properly named the Beansidhe literally, “woman fairy.” The Irish have many names for her (perhaps they feared invocation of her true name may invoke her presence?) They included: Washer of the Shrouds, Washer at the Banks, Washer at the Ford and the Little Washer of Sorrow. The Scottish called her Cointeach, literally “one who keens.” To the cornish she was Cyhiraeth and to the Welsh either Cyoerraeth or Gwrach y Rhibyn, which translates as “Hag of the Dribble” (to the Welsh she sometimes appear as a male). In Brittany her name is Eur-Cunnere Noe.
The Beansidhe is an extremely beautiful faery, possessing long, flowing hair, red eyes (due to continuous weeping) and light complexions. They typically donn green dresses with gray cloaks. Their wailing foretells of a death nearby, though it never causes such a death (which is why they are wrongly feared.)
As her other names might suggest, she frequently appears as a washerwoman at the banks of streams. In these cases, she is called the Bean Nighe (pronounced “ben-neeyah”). The clothing she washed takes different forms depending upon the legend. Sometimes it is burial shrouds, others it is the bloodstained clothing of those who will soon die. This particular version of the Bean Sidhe is Scottish in origin and unlike the Irish version, she is extremely ugly, sometimes described as having a single nostril, one large buck tooth, webbed feet and extremely long breasts, which she must throw over her shoulders to prevent them getting in the way of her washing . Her long stringy hair is partially covered with a hood and a white gown or shroud is her main wardrobe. The skin of the Beansidhe is often wet and slimy as if she had just been pulled from a moss covered lake. They are rumored to be the ghosts of women who died in childbirth and will continue to wash until the day they should have died. The keening music of Irish wakes, called caoine, is said to have been derived from the wails of the Beansidhe.
WHAT IS THE MOST IMPORTANT LESSON TO TAKE AWAY FROM THIS?
The Sea giveth and the Sea taketh away. The sea is both mother and reaper, passionate and cold, serene and turbulent, loving and cruel, generous and vicious. And if you meet a sea witch, you’ll know this to be true: