the conjuror

‘Celtic’ Witchcraft

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. 

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.

The Governor’s Ball

I watched the transformation in fascination. 

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.”


High vs. Low Magic

I’m not entirely sure the folk magicians with ‘access to the grimoires’ were ‘very few’ in number.*

“Although these texts found their way into the hands of some cunning-folk, it is surely one of the greatest ironies in the history of magic that, apart from the Fourth Book, the most influential vehicle for the dissemination of high magic to a wider audience was, in fact, Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft. As has already been seen, for Scot, cunning-folk and priests alike were ‘couseners, liers, and witchmongers.’ In order to expose their fraudulent activities and show ‘what notorious blasphemie’ necromancers and conjurors committed, Scot elucidated in great detail a wide range of charms, talismans, and rituals. These included an inventory of the names, shapes and powers of the principle devils and spirits used in conjurations, which he compiled from Johann Weyer’s critique of magic De praestigiis daemonum (On the Wiles of Devils). Weyer, a physician to the duke of Cleves, almost certainly obtained his information, in turn, from a manuscript of the clavicule of Solomon. Scot further provided directions on how to call up spirits, and illustrated these with diagrams of magic circles and the characters and seals of angels.”
- Owen Davies, Popular Magic. (P. 124 - 125.)

So, to make this clear: the most popular books that Cunning-folk bought included directions taken from grimoires, and rituals sometimes not seen elsewhere (like the Fairy Sibyllia), and practical instructions on their use. Reginald Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft was by far the best selling, followed by Agrippa’s Three Books and especially the pseudonymous Fourth Book, with includes details on how to deduct what type of a spirit you are interacting which based on the symbols and elements seen ‘in vision’ when the spirit arrives.

Scot’s Discoverie of Witchcraft further includes Weyer’s text on the spirits in the Clavicle of Solomon, and the Lemegeton (amongst other grimoires). Lower class, quasi-literate practitioners were using these texts and using them regularly. We can even see this in the Grimoire of Arthur Gauntlet, which includes sections of the Heptameron, Scot’s Discoverie, and several Sloane manuscrips and Folger manuscript inclusions, not to mention copious citations from Agrippa’s work. (These sorts of materials could only be obtained if Gauntlet was visiting another magician and sharing notes, which appears to be a much more normalized behavior than discussions on ‘high’ and ‘low’ magic might have you believe.

Another issue we need to discuss with ‘high’ and ‘low magic’ is whether the time period predates the arrival of the printing press or not. Once the printing press becomes common place, not only does black market distribution of ‘banned books’ (like those on magic) start becoming common place, but literacy starts spiking as well.

Once that occurs, our notions of what is folk magic or what a folk magician or elite magician might know get thrown out the window, because they could very well be reading Agrippa on the sly.

My Spirit Keeping Workbook

Since I enjoy working on my grimoire so much, I decided to make a spirit keeping/companionship workbook to help me stay on track with my companions! Here are a couple of the pages I’ve done so far, along with some explanations of each:

*Note* A lot of the information in here is NOT my own, it is helpful information I compiled from other while doing my research on spirit companionship. I can’t remember exactly where off the top of my head, but if you want me to link the original posts, just message me! Some of the information has been blurred for the privacy of my companions and myself.

This is just a basic info page! I love the little ghosties in the background. I’ve included a basic summary of what spirit keeping is, the benefits, and different types of manifestations.

Keep reading

“Is anyone else having a dream they’re in a geodesic dome made out of some dude’s arm after getting beat to a pulp by some creature snapping its many, many fingers?”Spider-Man

Cover art for Doctor Strange and the Sorcerers Supreme #008

Art by Javier Rodríguez and Álvaro López

So you’ve received a service..... Now what?

After receiving a service from any spirit shop, there are a few things you can (and should) do! 

 1.) Leave a review
Leaving a review is something you should do with ANY service you receive. This allows the reader/conjuror/vendor/whatever to get some feedback and see what to do next! Even a simple, “This was great because XYZ” or “This wasn’t great because XYZ” is helpful! 

Public reviews also help spread the word about the shop/service! This is a super cool way to ‘tip’ your vendor if the service was free, but even if not! 

 2.) Keep the vendor updated
If you have just adopted a spirit from a shop, keep the conjuror updated on how everything goes with the spirit! Conjurors tend to bond with the spirits a little while they’re vetting them, so it’s great to give them little tidbits of what is going on. Not only is it amusing, it’ll also help you get to know your conjuror (if you haven’t already) which will make it easier to ask questions or bring up problems if any arise. 

 3.) Enjoy!
After receiving a service, go on and enjoy whatever it is you received! Whether it is knowledge from a tarot reading, insight from an energy reading, a new friend from a Custom Conjure, you should enjoy it! 


anonymous asked:

Hi, I'm trying to get into Spirit companions. Do you have any tips?

Sure do! Before you find a companion, it’s important to research and gain enough knowledge on these things:

1. Protection! This is really important, even if you get your companion from a reputable conjuror. People make mistakes sometimes, and spirits can try to trick us sometimes, too! There are a lot of different ways you can protect yourself. Research them and find ways that work for you!

2. Banishing! Sometimes our protection may not be enough or may come into play too late. It’s important to know how to get rid of harmful spirits when you need to.

3. Practicing!  To develop your psychic abilities, I mean! There are many different types of psychic skills. Many people are naturally better at one or two types, and then work to get better at the rest. Find what you’re good at and work on it! Also practice meditation and visualization as much as you can! I’ve found that this greatly improves my ability to communicate with my companions.

Once you’re confident in all of this, it’s important to figure out how you will find your companion. Are you going to adopt an already conjured spirit? Or have someone conjure one for you? Or conjure one yourself? 

If you’re going to adopt a pre-conjured spirit, make sure that you’re adopting them because you feel called to them and not just because they are available! 

If you’re going to have someone conjure for you, like a shop, make sure you do your research on the shop/person doing the conjuring. Ask any questions you have! Make sure you’re 100% sure you’ve found the right conjuror for you! 

And if you’re conjuring for yourself, MAKE SURE you have fully researched and understood what you need to do and USE PROTECTION. I haven’t conjured, myself, so I don’t have a lot of tips on that, but DO RESEARCH and find others who have been doing it for a while and ask them any questions you may have. 

Once you have your companion, work hard to communicate with them and give them the love they deserve! They’ll likely be with you for the rest of your life, and maybe longer, so treat them right!! And don’t give up if things don’t come easy at first! They will appreciate your effort as long as you’re making an effort! 

I hope this helped some, and if you have any other questions, I’ll do my best to answer them!! And good luck on your journey into spirit companionship! <3