I remember in my early days trying to find resources on historical Celtic witchcraft. I wanted to learn about the witchcraft from the places I descended from. So, I searched for answers. I read book after book on the supposed witch practices found in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland (Raymond Buckland never steered me so wrong, and that’s really saying something). However, I remember feeling…unsatisfied. It didn’t seem historical or based in any pre-Gardnerian lineage. It seemed like Wiccan influenced witchcraft based in Gaelic and Gallic mythology. However, the authors of the books were claiming that it was truly historical and traditional. Lo and behold, I was correct. So then came the question “What is historical ‘celtic’ witchcraft and where can I find it?”
First of all, there is no one Celtic witchcraft. The word ‘Celtic’ applies to both Gaels and Gauls (though it’s said that Gauls aren’t included in that term at all, but for now, we’ll use it). There are six nations covered under ‘Celt’; Wales, Ireland, Scotland, Brittany, The Isle of Man, and Cornwall. Any witchcraft that originates from those lands can be considered ‘Celtic’, but the use of that term can create confusion and misinformation. Though they may look similar at times, and though they are all witchcraft, they are not the same. Methods changed from environment to environment. The witchery has always been based in the Land.
I’ll briefly describe the practices and lore found in each land, but it is by no means exhaustive.
In the circles of traditional witchcraft, Cornish witchery has been made very clear and accessible with much thanks to the wonderful Gemma Gary. Cornwall has perhaps one of the strongest histories of magical practice out of the Celtic Fringe. Not only witches, but Pellars (cunning folk), were a large part of the culture. Folk magic, the basis of both witch and pellar magic alike, ran rampant through Cornwall. The Pellars of Cornwall held a very strong likeness to witches, so much so that some folklorists consider them the same. The Pellars made it a point to have a wide range of services available to their customer. That meant that they would both curse and cure. The magic of Cornwall often came in the form of small spell bags filled with either powders, folded written charms, or other magical ingredient. These bags did a number of things, from love conjuring, curse breaking, and spirit banishing to healing, luck magic, and finding lost possessions. According to Cornish witch lore, a witch’s power fluctuates with the seasons, and it was in the spring that a witch’s power was renewed. The different pellars and witches of Cornwall would also clash through reputation of power. Though they clashed, the witches of Cornwall would also gather for their sabbats, which were a strange thing to behold to outsiders. Witches, both young and old, would dance with the Devil around fires, faster and closer to the flames with each pass, and never be singed. The ability to spontaneously disappear is spoken of (which may suggest flying). Black animals, especially black cats, are often spoke of in Cornish witch lore. The association with witch and toad is especially strong here, and it can be seen as a familiar, a shapeshifting witch, a charm, or an indicator of a witch.
Witchcraft that comes from Wales can be particularly tricky to find. The term ‘Welsh Witch’ has been popular since the early days of Stevie Nicks. This makes it notoriously difficult to find any historical references on actual Welsh witches. In actuality, there were two kinds of magical practitioner in Wales. The first was a wizard (known as a cunning man in England) and the second was a witch. Wizards were very popular and plenty in number in Wales. Their practice was based mainly in healing the ill and livestock. They also did favors, like giving love potions and undoing witch spells. One Welsh tale, however, tells about a conjuror who is unable to undo a witch’s spell on a butter churn, so the farmer must turn to another witch to reverse it. Welsh witches were thought to have great power. They were able to raise the dead, curse their enemies, and according to older legends, shape shift and fly. Observing the myth of a sorceress named Cerridwen and the legends of Morgan le Fey and Nimue, there comes a general idea of what a witch was in Wales and Welsh legend. The idea of someone brewing potions and poisons was most definitely associated with witches, but more broadly, elements of water and weather seem to have importance. Interaction with the fairies also holds a very strong importance in Welsh craft. Walking between worlds, particularly this world and the world of the Fairy (Avalon, anyone?), was a skill that many wizards, witches, and heroes of Welsh myth acquired. All in all, the witchcraft in Wales is quite similar to the witchcraft found in England, as is the interaction between Wizard (cunning folk or Wise Men and Women) and Witch.
In Brittany, a very strong fear and dislike for witches is found that is unlike Wales. Witches in Brittany were thought to be many in number. The legends suggest that they targeted farmers especially, making sure always to turn milk sour and spoil butter. They were also accounted to be particularly dangerous and vicious. Any man who watched their Sabbat would either not be found, found dead, or found scared witless and unable to speak. The witches of Brittany, however, were also sought out by the townsfolk. Indeed, there were witch doctors to fix their issues, but the witches were sought out for love spells and favors. Witch-cats are also mentioned, which could be either a reference to familiars or shapeshifting. Most strangely, Breton witches are said to very rarely cast spells on their targets and instead cast spells on the animals and possessions of the target. Every village is said to have a local witch. Some villages are said to be completely filled with witches. Many of them carry cane-like sticks with which they cast their spells. They were also said to be skilled in spells to find things, like lost objects and buried treasure. The line between village conjuror/wizard and witch is difficult to draw here. They may choose to help or harm, depending on their inclinations. For that reason, they still hold a strong reputation in Brittany, despite it being a place noted for its skepticism.
The Isle of Man
On the Isle of Man, both witches and magicians were an important part of the environment. The first thing you’ll find on the witches from the Isle is that they practiced much magic involving the weather and the sea. Magic was used to help the fishermen catch more fish, make sure the winds were good for travel, and settle storms at sea. A charm was made by a witch and given to a sailor that stored the winds inside. When he was at sea and in need of a gust, he would use the charm. Interestingly, the line between witch and cunning person seemed to blur here. Cunning folk were known as Charmers and Witch Doctors. Witches, however, were employed when needed. There was a perceived difference between the magic of different kinds of practitioners. Do not be mistaken, though. The fear and dislike of witches still existed. Many farmers feared the wrath of witches, especially when their crops failed and their cattle died. To reveal the witch responsible, they would burn whatever died. The person in pain the next day was thought responsible. As throughout all of Europe, witches were thought to have gained their power either through birth or through the Devil’s grace. However, witches were looked upon differently in the Isle than other places. Because of its long associations with magic, it had many kinds of magical practitioners and witches were not always considered to be the most powerful of them. Magicians, who practiced an art to compel and work with spirits and powers beyond other kinds of practitioners, were revered. They were usually compared to the image of Manannán Mac Lir, considered both a sea god and a powerful magician. The ability to fly and walk between worlds was also attributed to the witches and magicians of the Isle of Man, most likely due to the latter.
Witchcraft flourished in Scotland perhaps as much, if not more than, in Wales. Scotland’s witch trials are famous, and perhaps the most famous among them was Isobel Gowdie. In her free confession, she detailed a story that most labeled imaginary. She spoke of fairies, elf bolts, curses, shapeshifting, flying, and lewd activities with the Devil. When comparing it with the confession of Alison Pearson, another Scottish witch she had never met, a Scottish fairy tradition begins to appear. Alison also details stories of going under the hills to meet the fairies, as well as them making elf bolts. More trials begot more folklore and legends. Stories of witches working the weather to destroy crops, sink ships, and cause havoc spread. More tales of a Man in Black appearing to future-witches and witches alike began to run rampant. John Fian, a male witch, was famed for his botched love spell, teaching witchcraft, harshly bewitching people whom he didn’t like, and attempting to sink the fleet of King James VI with a storm. Much of Scotland’s witchcraft was influenced by Gaelic legend and myth. Scotland’s witchery was not Gaelic alone, however. Norse invaders came and brought their magic with them. In Orkney, a Scottish Isle filled with witch history, the Vikings came often. Their language and culture mingled with the Scots’. Soon, cunning women were referred to as Spae Wives. The word Spae comes from the Old Norse spá,which means ‘prophesize’. These spae wives told fortunes, created charms, and protected against foul magical play. The witches of Scotland, however, proved a match for them. They killed cattle, cursed babies, and brought general havoc with them.
Historical Irish witchcraft is perhaps the most difficult to find out of all the Celtic regions, and this is for a few different reasons. The first being that many lineages of Wicca have taken Irish mythology and applied it to the Gardnerian influenced witchcraft that they have. Many times when the word ‘Celtic Witchcraft’ or “Celtic Wicca’ comes up, this is what is being referred to. The second reason that it’s difficult to find is because the witch trials in Ireland are few and far between. The trials barely touched Ireland, amounting to a whopping 4 trials. The generally accepted reason for this is that Ireland was extraordinarily lax with its witchcraft laws. Most times, using witchcraft against another person’s possessions or livestock resulted in prison time. Only by harming another magically would a witch be executed. Interestingly, many people took this as a sign that Irish witches were generally less severe than their other Celtic counterparts. Florence Newton, the famed witch of Youghal, put the assumption to rest. When a woman refused to give her any food, she kissed her on the street. The woman became extremely ill and began to see visions of Florence pricking her with pins and needles. Florence also kissed the hand of a man in jail. He became very ill, cried out her name, and died. In a Northern Ireland trial, eight women were accused of causing horrific visions and poltergeists in the home of a woman. The ability to create illusions is a trait attributed to fairies in Gaelic myth. Those fairies are said to have taught the witches their skills in both Ireland and Scotland. Irish witches were said to turn themselves into animals, especially hares and crows, to spy on their neighbors. They would also place spells on those whom they wish in their animal form. They were also said to have used bundles of yarrow and branches of elder to fly. These sticks they flew upon, before brooms, were known as ‘horses’. They were said to fly up out of the chimney of their own homes. A tale of witches using red caps to fly also appears in Irish lore. This is another example of their strong ties to the fairies. The similarity between Irish and Scottish witchery has been noted, as they both have strong ties to Gaelic lore.
Witchcraft from the Celtic lands is a complex and unique thing, changing between each of the six nations. To lump them under a single title would be to lose the subtleties and differences between each. Saying that Irish witchcraft and Welsh witchcraft are the same is a fool’s lie. Saying that they are similar is true. Shapeshifting, flying, fairies, storms, and charms are found in each. But they are different. It isn’t a bad thing when the myths of these lands are paired with Wicca or Wiccan influenced witchcraft. However, the historical practices from those places mustn’t be overwritten.
With spirit companion shops popping up often now and having different sets of rules about what they are willing to do, it’s easy to get confused on what exactly you should be expecting from a conjuror. Here’s a list of a few different things to expect from a conjuror or shop. If you have any questions about anything listed here, please don’t hesitate to send us an ask! (A list of resources is linked below)
It may be hard to realize, but spirit companionship can and often is a lifetime commitment, not only for you, but for the conjuror as well. They should be willing to work with you and answer your questions days, months, even sometimes a year or so after you have worked with them.
Of course, don’t expect them to be able to talk with you 24/7, but a good conjuror will keep various forms of communication open should you have any questions or need any help.
I always recommend asking a conjuror about their experience with spirit work before working with them. Ask them things like: How long have you been working with spirits? How long have you been conjuring? How long have you been working with “X” spirit or “X” species? How long have you been conjuring for the public/other people?
A conjuror who is not willing to offer specifics to these kinds of questions may not be entirely trustworthy.
This may seem like a given, but all too often there will be a conjuror who lies about how much experience they have or how long they vet, and this can be very dangerous for you and any spirit or person they work with.
Look for consistencies or inconsistencies to help discern whether or not what is being said is true.
It’s always important to check a shop’s reviews and talk to others who have worked with them before to see how reliable they can be. Not only do you need to know how well they do with conjuring spirits, but how well they do with customer service and other shop aspects that tend to get pushed aside.
This may seem counter-intuitive, but ask the shop directly about how reliable they feel and how reliable they were in the past. A good shop will let you know of any improvements that they would like to make, and even tell you how they were in the past or let you know of what improvements with all of their services.
Since shops are now being used as informational blogs as well, the shop should at least have a few resources that they can give to beginners (note: it does not have to be resources they have made, it could simply be links to helpful posts). If you are getting your first companion from them, ask them for help or even just a few tips.
It’s always important for any shop to be ethical. I recommend asking the conjuror about their process of conjuring and vetting. Do they do everything with the spirit’s consent? Do they tell the spirits everything that is/will be happening? Do they treat the spirits properly?
Honestly? People who are interested in having an entity companion should do their research, talk to people who already have them, ask the store they’re looking at questions, browse through old posts, and work on their abilities to sense spirits so they won’t be entirely guessing when their companions do arrive.
But conjurors have a responsibility too. Especially if you custom conjure or reverse adopt an entity for someone and they don’t click with the human, you can’t just throw your hands up and tell them they should just work it out on their own or unbind if they don’t like it. You can’t just be like: I’ve already taken your money so your problems aren’t mine anymore. Even if the listing was a prebound, new companions sometimes make mistakes and everyone can make impulsive purchases on occasion. You can’t just not care about either of the two people you put together because you’ve already fulfilled what you’ve been paid for. Conjuring shouldn’t be the same as any other business.
(Mi is a shortened version of her nickname, as I prefers to keep those a secret until the ideal companion is found)
Mi’s vessel is a Blue Lace Agate pendant pendant on a gold-filled necklace chain.
Mi is a Koi Fish Mermaid who loves watching the rain and appreciating art of all kinds. She likes reading and writing to pass some of her time, and when she is not doing such thinsg she enjoys meditating.
Mi has a loving and gentle personality, with a very kind aura surrounding her. She likes helping others and listening to their stories, as she thinks everything can serve as artistic inspiration.
Mi is around 17 inches tall/long, her tail and skin are of a white-cream based coloration, spotted with irregular rose-golden and light orange marks.
She has Japanese facial features, and sleek black shoulder length hair, in a straight cut, and square bangs that cover her forehead.
Her eyes have a golden yellow hazel color.
She is often wearing a hand knitted cardigan in a peach color.
Mi enjoys warm drinks like coffee, teas, and chocolate, but her favorite is warm milk with honey. She also appreciates any sort of energy put into art as an offering, as well as classical music.
Mi dislikes loud environments, as well as stressful ones. She feels uncomfortable if she suspects she is being trapped and she can’t stand crowds.
USD 30.00 + shipping. Method of payment to be discussed with conjuror.
Since spirit companionship has gotten quite popular, here’s a very useful and important FAQ for all those who are starting to follow along this path!
What are spirits?
Spirits are any kind of noncorporeal being, that is, any being that doesn’t inhabit our physical plane of existence. Think, spirits of the dead, the fae folk, elves, dragons, demons, etc. Some consider Gods and Deities to be spirits as well.
They can be thinking beings or not, and like the animals in our earth, there are all different sorts of lifestyles.
What is spirit companionship?
Spirit companionship is a relationship between a spirit and a human person, this relationship can have all sorts of different natures; romantic, teacher/student, platonic, etc. It often depends on what the spirit and the person are looking for in this exchange.
Spirit companionships can last for a lifetime, or beyond lifes, or even just be a temporary thing. Spirit companions can be around all day and live with you, as they can just visit from time to time, again, it all depends on what both parties are looking for.
It also is a consensual and mutual relationship, just like you can’t call a random person you met your partner, you can’t call all spirits you meet companions. Be sure the other party is also okay with that.
How does spirit companionship work?
Since spirits can’t be around physically, companions usually rely on psychic abilities to communicate, such as telepathy, empathy, astral travelling, automatic writing, etc. One can also communicate through divination.
If the human practioner is a beginner and/or the spirit thinks it’s convenient, they can opt for a vessel. That being said, vessels aren’t always necessary.
Most people (humans and spirits alike) look for companionship in order to pass down their knowledge about the world they know, and learn about what is unknown, and to make friends.
What is a vessel?
A vessel is an object to which one (a conjuror, or the spirit itself) attaches the spirit’s energy to in a process called binding.
Vessels are not meant to trap the spirits in any ways, they are also not supposed to “house” them, instead, vessels act as a contacting device, as a telephone line if you will, made for making it easier to contact and feel the spirit, that’s the reason why usually more experienced human companions don’t use vessels.
What is binding/how does one bind a spirit?
Binding in spirit companionship is the process of attaching one’s energy or energy signature to an object, such as inserting a SIM card in a phone.
This process is not meant to hurt the spirit, despite the scary name and the connotations the word has from its meanings in other areas within the magickal community. But, even if it’s a harmless process, it needs to be consensual; just like one’s body is their own and their own only, so is one’s energy.
It’s not common but spirits can have vessels for their human companions as well!
What happens if I lose or break my companion’s vessel? Will they still be able to find me?
If the binding is made in an ethical manner, the worst that will happen is the spirit’s energy won’t be attached to that object anymore.
Yes, they can still find you, remember that the vessel is just a way of making communication easier.
What are spirit shops?
Spirit shops are places where people can find and contact spirits in a practical and easier manner.
When you buy from a spirit shop, you’re not actually buying the spirit, but the work a conjuror puts in providing their service that often includes conjuring, vetting, listing, interviewing, the energy work they put on the binding process, the use of their psychic abilities, and more often than not, for the vessel as well.
All of those things take time and can be quite draining, so be sure you’re not paying for the living being, instead you’re paying for the service provided so that being can become your companion!
A conjuror is an experienced spirit worker and companion who masters communication, energy work, and discernment. They can call upon spirits, talk to them, vet them, and bind them.
Can I meet my companion on my own? How do I start?
Yes, many people meet their companions and/or friends on their own. Sometimes they come to you, and sometimes you call for them yourself. It all depends on the circumstances.
A good way to start is to talk to plant or crystal spirits for they are usually easy to encounter and to begin practicing with!
I just met my first companion, what now?
Spend some time with them to get to know them beyond their information sheet. Find out what they like, dislike. Set up house rules (what is and isn’t acceptable). Find out how they prefer to communicate. And, depending on the nature of the companionship you both are looking for, mundane stuff like watching movies, listening to music, painting, etc, are also great and fun bonding activities!
What is important to know before I start pursuing spirit companionship?
1. Spirits often have their own lives in their home realms, you don’t have to be there for them 24/7 and you they are definitely not going to die if they’re apart from you.
2. Not all spirits you meed are fit for companionship, and you need to be aware that you can’t trust every spirit you meet - just like you can’t trust every person you meet.
3. Protection is utterly important when working with spirits you don’t know.
4. Spirits more often than not are beings with feelings very similar to human ones, and just like any relationships, companionship depends on trust and healthy communication.
5. People are always learning and growing, if you have doubts, don’t bottle them up! There are many many people willing to help and answer your questions!
Red-heeled shoes and silk stockings clocked in black. Gray satin breeches with silver knee buckles. Snowy linen, with Brussels lace six inches deep at cuff and jabot. The coat, a masterpiece in heavy gray with blue satin cuffs and crested silver buttons, hung behind the door, awaiting its turn.
He finished the careful powdering of his face, and licking the end of one finger, picked up a false beauty mark, dabbed it in gum arabic, and affixed it neatly near the corner of his mouth.
“There,” he said, swinging about on the dressing stool to face me. “Do I look like a red-heided Scottish smuggler?”
I inspected him carefully, from full-bottomed wig to morocco-heeled shoes.
“You look like a gargoyle,” I said. His face flowered in a wide grin. Outlined in white powder, his lips seemed abnormally red, his mouth even wider and more expressive than it usually was.
“Non!” said Fergus indignantly, coming in in time to hear this. “He looks like a Frenchman.”
“Much the same thing,” Jamie said, and sneezed. Wiping his nose on a handkerchief, he assured the young man, “Begging your pardon, Fergus.”
He stood up and reached for the coat, shrugging it over his shoulders and settling the edges. In three-inch heels, he towered to a height of six feet seven; his head nearly brushed the plastered ceiling.
“I don’t know,” I said, looking up at him dubiously. “I’ve never seen a Frenchman that size.”
Jamie shrugged, his coat rustling like autumn leaves. “Aye, well, there’s no hiding my height. But so long as my hair is hidden, I think it will be all right. Besides,” he added, gazing with approval at me, “folk willna be looking at me. Stand up and let me see, aye?”
I obliged, rotating slowly to show off the deep flare of the violet silk skirt. Cut low in the front, the décolletage was filled with a froth of lace that rippled down the front of the bodice in a series of V’s. Matching lace cascaded from the elbow-length sleeves in graceful white falls that left my wrists bare.
“Rather a pity I don’t have your mother’s pearls,” I remarked. I didn’t regret their lack; I had left them for Brianna, in the box with the photographs and family documents. Still, with the deep décolletage and my hair twisted up in a knot, the mirror showed a long expanse of bare neck and bosom, rising whitely out of the violet silk.
“I thought of that.” With the air of a conjuror, Jamie produced a small box from his inside pocket and presented it to me, making a leg in his best Versailles fashion.
Inside was a small, gleaming fish, carved in a dense black material, the edges of its scales touched with gold.
“It’s a pin,” he explained. “Ye could maybe wear it fastened to a white ribbon round your neck?”
“It’s beautiful!” I said, delighted. “What’s it made of? Ebony?”
“Black coral,” he said. “I got it yesterday, when Fergus and I were in Montego Bay.” He and Fergus had taken the Artemis round the island, disposing at last of the cargo of bat guano, delivered to its purchaser.
I found a length of white satin ribbon, and Jamie obligingly tied it about my neck, bending to peer over my shoulder at the reflection in the mirror.
“No, they won’t be looking at me,” he said. “Half o’ them will be lookin’ at you, Sassenach, and the other half at Mr. Willoughby.”