Flying is simultaneously one of the easiest things and one of the hardest things to learn in witchcraft. Witches fly. That simple statement has driven perfectly good witches insane. They think they should be able to fly easily, and when they cannot, they break. They think that all their learning and practicing should make it work, but it won’t. Each witch learns in their own time. You can’t force the process. Flying was one of the first skills I learned. It was very natural for me at first, but I started to psych myself out and it became difficult. When I learned a few key things, it became easy again. Now there is hardly a day that I don’t fly somewhere (after all, who has the money to travel somewhere to talk to someone, especially when you can just fly there and drop off a message yourself). One of the first things I want to put out there is that spirit flight is not quite the same as something like guided meditation is. Same aspects in that you’ll see, touch, smell, etc. things, but different in that you’re not looking to go inside yourself, rather outside yourself. The hardest part for a lot of people is the beginning stage, when you leave your body. The best advice I can give for this is to let go. Let go of the control over your body and mind. Let go of the things that weigh you down. Let your bliss, your want, and your spirit, carry you up and out. Try to move, but without your body. Don’t imagine it, just do it. Unfortunately, It’s not something I can aptly describe. Many people insist on flying while laying down. I say do what feels right. Lay down, sit up, stand on your head, whatever works. Although, flying while standing up could prove hazardous or unsuccessful, especially if you’re just beginning. The way I fly is in a meditative state. It’s a sort of half sleep. Not fully conscious, but not fully unconscious. I try not to fall asleep because I often either slip back into my head or I lose control over the experience. Many witches prefer to fly while they sleep, though. It all depends on the witch and their tastes. Some use ointments, some don’t. I used to use a mint oil on my forehead and the nape of my neck. Nowadays, I use nothing. Some witches won’t fly without the aid of their handy belladonna and mandrake ointment. Oils and ointments are another discussion entirely though, so I’ll hold off on that. When you leave your body, all you have to do to travel is to will yourself to specific places. Know where you want to go, and make it happen. Try not to venture too far within your first few times. Move around wherever your body is, or travel to some place familiar. You don’t want to get lost. Getting lost and not finding your way back is a sad possibility. I see a lot of websites saying that it’s impossible to get hurt while you’re out of your body. Folklore and witch stories say otherwise. As you fly more, you’ll learn more. You’ll learn tricks while you’re out and about, but before that you need to learn how to get back. Try to find your way back to where you began, or back to your body. It’s a slower process, but it’s the best for when you’re starting out. As you get a bit more acquainted with the sensations, you’ll learn to snap back into your body. One of the best methods I’ve found to bring yourself back is to think of your feet. It’ll bring you back down. Snap back into yourself with caution, though. It’s easy to leave a piece of you somewhere or get disoriented. And retrieving those lost pieces isn’t nearly as easy as losing them. And the last question I know all witches have, “How do I know that I’m not imagining it all?” There are little things that happen that will alert you to if it’s real or not. I’ll give you an example. I once managed to project while fully conscious, and to prove it to myself that I was indeed doing it, I whispered in someone’s ear with my specter. They turned around to see who was behind them. I was floored. Given, that’s a more flashy example, but there are others. Let’s say you leave your body to get information. When you come back, ask yourself if there was any other way for you to know the information you just gathered. Test yourself.
When you’re ready, let go of everything, including the doubt and fear, and let your spirit soar.
…she is the guardian between the two worlds, that of the living and that of the dead, the world of visible things and things which are invisible, the world of ordered reason and that of madness and chaos.
For me, witchcraft is animistic, as well as mystical. There is a reason there is no dichotomy for me. As an animist, I understand the world to be inspirited, animated with the movement of sensuous intelligences at every scale of being.
In the cosmology posited in many traditional witchcrafts (particularly the lore of the major initiatory Houses), the shape of reality is a 3-ness: the Underworld, the Middleworld, and the Supernalworld. Because this shape exists at every scale, it is reflected in the notion of every entity (parts of the Whole) having 3 souls or selves, native to each condition.
The Fetch/Free Soul is native to the Underworld, the Breath Soul/Spirit is native to the Middleworld, and the Daimonic Self to the Supernal. It’s interesting to note that many ancient peoples understood the Celestial realm as a special place within the Underworld, the Stars within the Earth. I myself have seen the Door at the Bottom of the Wyrding Well (the Deepest Depths of the Great Below) that opens into the Great Above, a black sky of Utter Night and the Silvery Stars twinkling therein.
Typically I refer to the Underworld and the Supernal as the Vertical-Axis, the Innerworld from whence everything comes and returns to. All of reality is movement to and fro. I understand this place in the “Middle” as the Horizontal-Perceptual World, where time appears to move in one direction just as the Sun crosses the sky East to West, from horizon to horizon. Here we spring up from the inside of a body, are birthed and grow and perceive, unfolding our lives before sinking back into return/decay at Death. The Whole is the Crossroads, the place where the Vertical-Axis and the Horizontal-Perceptual meet, and center defines circumference.
I believe that the Fetch visits the Vertical-Axis nightly, in dream. That the dream condition and the death condition are the same. When we die our Fetch will go to be with our Ancestors from whence we extend, while our Breath Soul (for most), our waking consciousness and colorful weave of identities, will depersonalize and return to the Wind of the World, the thunder/perfect mind of the Master. Our Daimon shall guide the Fetch home. Only those most favored by the Elphen Queen will escape this Fate.
But let’s return to the topic at hand. In dream we have a body, though it easily shapeshifts, and is also primarily ancestral. I also know with certainty that folks who are called witches can enter a “Twilyte” state, the Witching Trance, and walk the blade-edge bridge between waking and sleeping in a phenomenon called the Witches’ Flight or Transvection.
This state allows the practitioner to unite the worlds and stand at the meeting place of the axes, in lore called “riding the Hedge,” where they can affect phenomena in the Horizontal-Perceptual world while effectively “lucid dreaming.” Truly this is a state beyond waking awareness, sleep, or even ordinary dream as Chumbley posits. But there is certainly a body that engages these things.
For me, there is no such thing as the immaterial, only the living world around us intertwined with the subtlties of the pre-/post-mortem states of consciousness. The cosmos is predatious, eating and birthing itself like Ceridwen eats and births Taliesin. We can experience a body in each of the worlds, and realize there is no spirit without body, there is no substance that is not holy, animate.
It’s why, for instance, witches use the senses and the body to engage in sorcery; why materia magica *is* spiritual substance for us. Things are what they do. Everything is a process happening. Every herb and root, water, salt, mommet, tool or implement–they are alive with magic, with life-force, with sorcerous power.
These are beings we weave our spells with, not merely inanimate objects whose symbolism/aesthetic fascinates the mind. Witches use song, dance, sex, fasting, feasting, transgression and ecstasy, the fluids of the body, the parts of animals (other bodies), movements called “shamanic passes,” symbols drawn or carved–these all form the “body” of spiritual forces and beings as we encourage them to act in the Horizontal-Perceptual World through intention, desire, will, and relationship (including pacts and bonds). They become a part of us, as the truth of who we are is much more than discrete individuals but morphic fields all blending together into the Wholeness.
We are a train of beings, a chain of ancestors reaching back, and spirit allies reaching forward, all forming the Tree of Life with our rooting and branching. The three selves, our ancestors, familiars, fate-followers, allies–this all forms the greater family that we embody in the here-and-now. Try not to escape into idealism or the fantasy of any other existence apart from the hear-and-now, the world of the senses. It is a trap of delusion and will get you lost in folly and inaction, and split your soul into pieces.