Monday, August 30, 2010

Whitewashing History.

This was going to be a review of Raven Grimassi's "Italian Witchcraft", but as I read through the book I came across something so enraging that I had to stop and vent my vitriol.

Conclusions Reached.

"It is interesting to note that Jan Ziarnko, in 1612, produced an engraving for the work Tableau de l' inconstance. In this engraving he displays a horned entity sitting upon a throne. To it's right sits a woman who is labeled in the text as the Queen of the Sabbath. Kneeling before them are worshipers who are presenting a small child. All about, people are involved in dancing and feasting. The fact that people kneel to the throned individuals addresses the issue of worship. The importance of this image is that it shows a male and female entity overseeing the sabbath. In the picture, we note that they do not participate as would a High Priest or High Priestess. The Sabbath is being performed FOR them. This addresses the issue of Deity. Are we seeing Befana and Befano before they were dethroned by the Christian Church."
- Raven Grimassi Italian Witchcraft, pages 62/63.

... which is all well and good, except...

Take a moment to examine the image. In the image we see, everything Grimassi attributed to it seems plausible. Unfortunately, this is an exceptionally small section of a far larger image. In a rather small size it's still huge, so I'm going to post the whole thing as a link a little later. But first we'll take a winder angle at Grimassi's narrow crop.

Notice anything different?

Yeah, had I not literally seen this woodcut the day before buying the book, why... I might have taken the observation at face value.
The Grimassi crop is highlighted red.

Here we see three figures seated, not a god/dess pair, but rather a Goat on a throne flanked by two women. Each one is holding a bundle of snakes conveniently cropped in Grimassi's view. The child is bring presented not by "kneeling worshipers" but by a woman and a winged demon-figure (conveniently cropped). As far as what the text of the book in which this image appears says - I haven't the foggiest.

All about, people are involved in dancing and feasting.

Here's the aforementioned feast. Notice anything interesting here? There are demons and women feasting on HUMAN CHILDREN.

The dancers are composed of human females and demons dancing around a tree. The only male human I can suss out is a musician.

To be frank, the whitewashing of this image, and the manipulation of a narrow crop to "prove" a point is seriously irritating to me. This etching does not even vaguely depict a feast we'd recognize as a pagan survival. It's a Christian depiction of a diabolical sabbat. This image can inspire those of us who are Traditional Witches of a sabbatic tint, those of us who certainly don't eat babies, but don't feel the desire to whitewash over 90% of the picture to make it fit a preconceived idea.

But, I could be wrong here.

It's entirely possible that Mr. Grimassi only saw the smaller image, and didn't do any follow-up research to see if there was "more" to the image. It's possible that he took the single source, and it's content at face-value. I'm not exactly sure that paints a better view of his scholarship, however. It's a small thing, but it's one of those things that just stuck in my craw. I'll post a full review sometime in September.

(NOTE: The "whitewashing" referred to in this entry is NOT meant in the racial sort of way, but rather in the sense of "Painting over the things you don't like" in an entirely different way)

Monday, August 16, 2010

Familiars Part Three - Servitors.

In every nearly every article or book I've found concerning the Familiar in the practice of modern "Witchcraft Revivalists" there is made some sort of mention of a "created" familiar. Back in my youth, and hell - to this day, we called this a "servitor".

Servitors, as my mentor reckoned them (and thus how I "learned" them), are entities, either created whole cloth by the Practitioner, or assembled from the energetic remains (or "cloned" parts) of other entities. These entities are created specifically to carry out a single task, and be resorbed, dismantled, or destroyed.

Some practitioners extend the life of a servitor indefinitely, but this has it's risks. The longer an entity exists, feeding or being fed upon various kinds of energy, the greater chance it has to escape the Will of the person/s who created it. It would still be attached to that person, however, providing a rogue link to the Practitioner that could backfire spectacularly, or provide a point of entry for unwanted energies.

The key difference between the "servitor-familiar" and the Familiar-Spirit is that one is created (the servitor) and one is a pre-existing spirit, who is usually given to the witch by either another witch, or the sabbat-lord.

How this effects the entity is in it's range of influence. A servitor cannot (initially) do anything you cannot do yourself. Familiars, by nature, are designed to do things that the witch can never do on their own. So, expecting one to work as the other is ineffective at best.

When Categories Get Fuzzy.

My favored servitor/s, the baneye, were out of my hands about a year or two after I first created one. These little beings were part fish, part pig, part bird, and covered in eyeballs. They were inspired by an old woodcut illustration, and spawned to keep a look-out, and fend off any unwanted trespassers. They would replicate when more of them were needed, and slowly re-devour each-other when times were less hectic, designed to be a self-sustaining alarm system on "the astral".

Today they breed on their own, and have varied forms. Some are the original "pig-sized" servitors, while others are epic war-mount size. Still others are simply swarms of single eye-balls on nerve endings which serve as rudimentary legs. Not a single one of them, however, is beholden to my command alone. How did this happen? I made the mistake of lending one of them to a being in the between-world. He made his own tinkering modifications to his new little pet, and they changed. All of them. Permanently.They are now more his children than mine, and though exceedingly good at their job - have minds very much their own.

"I Don't Want to "Drive" Anything With a Mind of It's Own."
- my uncle, on the topic of Horses.

These instances of Servitor going rogue, or being "lifted up" are sporadic. You can't count on the being you've willed into existence being favored by your gods, guides or guardians, and to suggest this as a common mode of practice sets the practitioner up for disappointment.

Beyond this, when you create a servitor it is created with specific things in mind. You want the being to be a part of you, wholly under your control, and able to be recalled (or totally dissolved) when the operation is complete. Allowing this link to yourself out of your hands has heavy consequences.

Early in my "career" as a practitioner, I created a servitor designed to collect knowledge and energy, and bring it back to me. This was supposed to manifest as both startling internal revelations, and happening upon just the info I was looking for in books, or articles.

At some point, he simply went missing. Against my better judgment, I did not "nix" the Servitor, convincing myself he was just off on a mission that was more difficult than I'd realized. One night, I thought I sensed his presence outside of my room. Unfortunately, it was not "just" him. Either he had consumed the wrong thing, or the wrong thing had consumed him, and resulted in a "brundlefly" - something that was neither being, both beings, and exceedingly worse than either alone.

The "other" being was a decidedly malevolent one, and over the course of many months consumed it's way through my servitor, and came after me. Through the servitor it had access to me in a way it shouldn't have. I should have dismantled my servitor the second it went missing. Instead, I treated a servitor as though it were an independent entity and suffered the consequences.

I Created it... I think...
...It's possible I didn't... it could have been pre-existing. I got distracted.
AKA "Adhesion"

Occasionally, when creating a servitor, people get lazy. They internally visualize what they want, but they do not pull that out of themselves and give it form. They sort of let it coalesce, or "show up". Sometimes these are Servitors, sometimes they aren't.

A long time ago, there existed a group dedicated to "role playing" characters in the setting of the Jim Henson film "Labyrinth". Here there were a myriad of fantasies played out from people switching genders, to one-night-stands with rock stars. But above-all, reigned the character of Jareth - A Fairly-like creature that shapeshifts into the form of a barn owl, and is the "Goblin King".

For those unfamiliar with the film (firstly, shame on you, go watch it) the plot of the film is that a hormonal, self-centered, teenaged girl - angry at a younger sibling, decides to "wish him away" (jokingly) to the realm of the Goblin King - called "The Underground". Unfortunately for her, he actually shows up, and takes the baby. The teenaged girl is given thirteen hours to travel through the massive, county-sized, labyrinth erected around the Goblin King's castle, in the heart of "The Goblin City" to retreive her little brother before he is turned into a goblin forever.

Scenes of the film depict the young girl, lost in a seemingly unending (and constantly shifting) labyrinth in the underworld (er... I mean underground!) set against intercuts of her baby brother at the center of a goblin reverie, lead by their king.

Jareth, as a character is beautiful, able to re-order space and time, king of his own realm and perfectly capable of doing absolutely awful things to get what he wants. In short - he is a Fae. The group of fans I had encountered were all spending so much time focusing on this character, his world, his traits... that something got a little hinky.

A few nights after joining this chat for the first time, while working a candle-spell at my open window, I saw a large barn owl swoop by. I chuckled to myself, and later mentioned the sighting to my newfound friends. Their reaction was instant - Stay away from the owl.

Understandably I was confused, it was just an owl. I live in the woods, and Barn owls are pretty common. NO, they said... this wasn't a barn owl, this was Jareth. I had to stay away from him, because the "real" Jareth wasn't as nice as he was in the movies. "The Real Jareth"? It was laughable. He was a damned fictional character portrayed by an already aging rock-star.

Except... As time went on things got weird. I would dream of this character, who was exceedingly like the film character - and yet clearly something far older. He had wants, desires, and motives of his own. And eventually his presence moved from interactions in dreams to people's lives getting very messed up when they said or did unkind things toward the character in the game.

Their devotion, their attention - their worship, had called something very real out of the aethers. Something close enough to that fantasy depiction that it could adhere to their wishes and desires, and manifest through an unintentional gateway. This being existed on the cusp - it was a real entity, using a fictional mask to get it's due.


Servitors can be lifted up to the status of a Familiar, but the process is mostly by chance, and very unpredictable. Existing entities can be "netted in" or adhere to thought forms and servitors, leading to very unpredictable results. Using a Servitor long-term can lead to unexpected results.

If you're prepared to accept the unexpected results, and suffer the consequences (and believe me, there'll be some suffering) - fine und dandy. But a very poor choice for new pagans, and it would be very irresponsible for someone to advise otherwise.

Mytho-Fictional-Magick : The Death Stick.

Nothing is real and everything is permitted? This truth is not the motto of my heart. Hear the wisdom of the threshold-walker - Everything is real, and the taboo is in the harnessing of it's reality.


This is one of the only times you'll see me addressing meta-magick, or mytho-fictional magick. The reason is that it is both a supremely serious pursuit for those involved in it, and incredibly hard not to outright laugh at.

Those of us who dance around the edges of consensus reality have been gifted with a sublime amount of material from which to draw our experimental corpus. Not the least amongst these is the Harry Potter universe. In this universe there is a line between users of magick, and those who are utterly incapable of using it. Further still is a line between magick-users, and those willing to use -every- kind of magick for their own aims. In the canon of this series, it's made abundantly clear that anyone willing and able to use "all" arts, is probably using "dark" arts.

The topic of "dark" versus "light" when dealing with meta-magick is enough to fill a hundred entries, several books and many dimly-lit afternoons over multiple packs of tobacco-in-paper deathsticks. I'll leave that for another time and focus on the main point : Wandlore.

I've always made wands. I cultivate the trees, I've even arbrosculpted the living tree to shape the final wand (which could have stones, or other material, embedded inside of the living tissue). Once upon a time someone asked me if I could "core" a wand, as in Harry Potter.

I gave it some consideration: Take a supple young branch, split it like you're de-veining a shrimp, insert the material, bind until healed, allow the branch to grow to the desired thickness and harvest. Yes, that would indeed put a "core" in a wand. Would it be of use? What use would it have? How would it effect the wand?

The core would not be any "mythical" being. No more mythical than a surgically altered goat, or the bones of a particularly ill-tempered snake, that happened to be hatched under a toad or some such. And yet, if I'm to take stock in the claims of other Witches and Pagans - there are mythotypal beings wandering around in the Astral, and some of them are willing to entreat with Witches.

So, I gave it a try. I put a physical substance into the middle of a supple branch in a tree particularly beloved by the local spirit-life. I journeyed into the between-world, and worked with the spirit of the tree itself. I journeyed into the other-world and obtained the needed concerns. And as I came back, and back, at each level I wove that power into the branch.

It worked. Willow 14 1/2", hair of a water fairy (probably an unseelie). Undulating and supple, with an inclination toward purification work, and particularly good for water-witching. Unfortunately, it also enjoys slinging some of the nastier curses I can formulate, and does so with a familiar ease.

Anyone who took the time could construct their own Elder Wand, a Deathstick of uncanny accuracy and lethality. The question is: Why? The Willow-wand spends most of it's time neatly put away, where it won't stab anyone's eye out. I can't imagine the ferocity of nature one would get from attempting to replicate Death's own wand.

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

The Cauldron-Stirrer...

There is a woman in the clearing. She's atop a slab of stone, sitting semi-native style, her calves down and wrapped around a large cooking pot. She reaches around her in the dim firelight, pulling bundles of this, sprigs of that, sections of roots. Into the pot they go.

She is muscular, agile. Her hips are wide, and seductively curvaceous, but she has broad shoulders and thicker arms than most women would want. Leaning next to her is a forked pole, rubbed smooth by sanding and sealed with wax and sacred oils, it is shaped like the tines of an inverted peace symbol. Around her shoulders is a scrap of shawl, enough to keep the chill from her back, should the fire before her not provide enough heat. Around her neck is a mantle of bones, stones and shining beads.

Her face is shrouded by heavy hair, it's elbow-length and wild. The ends are rough in the front, suggesting she's recently cut away the forelocks with a knife... probably to clear her vision. Her face reminds me of Anjelica Houston, twenty or thirty years ago. She is a handsome woman, but razor-sharp, weaponized, and lovely.

Around the fire before her cavort all manner of creatures. They do so with the good nature of somewhat inebriated party-goers, tittering on flutes, bashing drums and whooping every time the fire pops and sends a soap-berry chasing after someone's legs.

It seems that she is a fixture of the land. The beasts and beings neither give her a particularly wide berth, nor stray too close. When one of them crosses before her, they seem to nod a little in her direction. It is accepted that treading directly into the space around her is a poor idea, or so the body-language says. Behind her, in the shadows, is a massive shape of fur and twisting skin.

Opposite her, beyond the flames (where I cannot clearly see him) is a tall man, wearing a hooded cloak made of animal hide, and crowned with a set of horns (antlers? they seem to shift like branches in the wind). To me, he is shadow, and yet his presence reaches around the fire-circle like dark wings. He is sitting on a fallen log, one leg tucked into the bend of the other's knee and his right hand rests in the crotch of a short stang. It is his crutch... I think. The leg which does not touch the ground seems fairly well lamed. I realize that it is his side of the flames where I always am, and he is always behind me, but now I'm somewhere in the middle.

I find myself moving toward her, the razor-faced woman in the threadbare shawl. Goatboy tugs at my pant-leg. He suddenly reminds me of "Dobby", knowing he can't say something important, but imploring me with his eyes to stay the fuck by the fire. I kneel down to him, so we're roughly the same height and ask him if he's able to tell me why he doesn't want me to move. He looks at Her, then at Him, then at me. He gets a somewhat constipated look. I feel a rush of fear.

"It's okay Goatboy... I can always think of my feet." I tell him. He seems to get it, or at least the gist of it, and lets go of my pant leg. He still won't stray beyond the edge of the disturbed soil. He won't go up to where the light of the fire seems to bend to avoid her throne.

I kneel, just off to the right of her. The shadow writhes. I look up at her razor-face, it is physically and psychically painful. And I say "Am I dead?" - It wasn't the question I meant to ask. Far from it, actually. Funny how these things happen. But her face seems to split in two, ear to ear with a toothsome grin, full of absolutely mirthless laughter.

This is the maw of death, just north of the maw of rebirth. She must consume to give birth. She is a black hole which forms around it's orbit a beautiful galaxy. Periodically consuming things, so that the energy of it's decay forces the remaining survivors further beyond reach. But without her pull, nothing would ever form. Without matter being devoured, nothing would survive... And as soon as this vision arises, it departs. She is beautiful again, and not quite so hard to look at. "You wouldn't be here if you weren't a little." she says... without really speaking.

It is by her leave that all things pass to and from death, she rules the Underworld, and all of it's gods, with an Iron fist, for all things must pass between on her roads. Hers are the things that go bump, that hide from sight, and are never truly beheld. The black shucks, and poisonous toads. Rats and crawling things. Beasts which mingle races. Races which no one living ever gets to behold.

I scrape and bow my way back to the firelight, and I feel the rush of air, and light, and sound come back at me. Goatboy pats me affectionately on the knee where I've collapsed squarely on my ass. "You warned me. I ignored you. Let's say score one to you, good sir." Goatboy grins. The sounds of the fire are mostly drowned out by the pounding of my heart. He passes me a horn of mead, with a look stating that I cannot refuse this time, and that if I do he'll personally ram me. I accept the fairy-drink, which tingles on my tongue with the bitter explosion of Solanine and Dandilion. Another human, though debatably so, drags me to my feet and into a dance around the fire. I dance until the sun begins to rewind from the West, and then I run... I fly, I gallop on all fours. I shift and change through a dozen forms and fall from a great height into my body.

I suck down several glasses of ice-water, and sit up in bed for a bit. For all the morons, like myself, who've dance on the edge of death, bang-faced, and arrogant : Never in my life had I been so glad to draw breath.

Also, no, his name isn't Goatboy. But I'm not going to post his actual name. That'd be a bit gauche.

Sunday, August 8, 2010

Familiars - Part Two.

On a forum, another Hedge-crafter took exception to some of my comments about Familiars, and I can certainly understand why they might. It made me realize that I might have been somewhat unclear in some of my thoughts. What I said was a direct reflection of my own experiences, and of the research I've done. Though, I suppose I ought to have been more clear in the first place (sad is the day when a forum of Hedgewitches have to resort to mincing words).

In the trial of the Pendle Witches, Alizon was compelled to accept a familiar by Old Demdike while the pair were walking home. The process of the Familiar feeding on her left a mark which lasted six months afterward. In all of my experiences concerning beings feeding upon a person, if it leaves a mark that lasts such a long time - well... that's not exactly a "deep, loving, relationship". It hurt, it was probably frightening, and at that moment it was more parasite than life-partner.

Some Witches did, and do, doubtlessly deal with gentler beings, while some will have other kinds of work, for which neither gentle beings nor gentle partnerships are appropriate. Their interactions will be different. No two witches are alike, nor should they be, and as such their perspectives will be different. No one should expect (or demand, as some do) otherwise.

As was one point of contention - at best, one can expect to have a symbiotic relationship, a mutually beneficial, and even loving one. At worst, one may find that they are the prey, and foodsource, of a much stronger and less gentle being than they had assumed (or been lead to believe by white-washed source material). To me, this is no more controversial than saying "At best you can expect to have an awesome day, at worst you can expect to die". Both statements are unflinchingly honest, however uncomfortable they may be to hear.

The second point of contention was the Familiar leaving the Witch. Well... when/if there is nothing for them to gain anymore, they will leave... the same as any being. I have also stated that in my experience, sometimes they can get annoyed enough to simply leave.

My original post had also stated that the more pleasant the familiar, the more pleasant the partnership as long as the Witch is pleasant too. Sometimes, no one in the relationship is pleasant, or nice, or gentle. For some instances that's rather the point.

A Tale of The Blackedogge.

Alizon Device met with a pedler on the highway, and demanded that the peddler sell her some pins. He refused, and Alizon, leaving the scene of the altercation, met again the black dog who had suckled at her, leaving a mark which lasted six months. The Dog said "What wouldst thou have me do unto yonder man?" Alizon asked "What canst thou do to him?"
The dog answered "Lame him". The man didn't make it more than 200 feet down the road before he fell down, lame.
Five days later, the Black Dog appeared to her again, compelling her to stay and speak with it. She refused, and did not see the Black Dog again.

Alizon Device, amongst a long line of witches real and accused, would likely laugh very hard at the idea that familiars are relegated to ONLY being gentle, loving, beings.

Tuesday, August 3, 2010

What to do When Trouble Comes Knocking.

A while back I posted an entry about being bothered by locals who want my advice and refuse to take it. There I went through the scenario of what I do when contacted. But I thought, for the sake of posterity and to be helpful to those who aren't familiar with the process, I might go a little more into depth.

Please Help Me.. you just HAVE to!

When someone approaches a Witch for advice, or aid, this is usually the phrase. It doesn't matter what kind of work they want done. Though, occasionally for malefic work the phrase is more like "You wanna make someone's dick bleed?" - which is just another way of saying "I'm hurt, and I need assistance".

My suggestion is always this: If you are inclined to spend the next few minutes hearing the person out, invite them to give as calm and honest an appraisal of the situation as they are able. Listen to their use of words, note their body language, and especially eye contact. For me, I tend to stare off into space when I'm thinking. If someone is spending a lot of time avoiding eye contact, they're searching for words - that could mean they're digging up old memories, or making up new stories to tell you.

Listen to word choice, and tone. Weasel words will come into play if the person's motives aren't sound. "He always", "you won't believe", "he'd, like, (anything terrible)". The assumption is that in order to win your favor and advice, the event/s need to be outlandish and irresistible. Which will lead to embellishment, or outright lies. If he "always", there will be specific citations. If you won't believe, you won't need to be told that. If he'd "like" skin the cat once a week, he'd just fucking skin it, skinning it isn't -like- anything.

Then, get out the cards. Do a simple four-card reading. Do it in front of them, and tell them your exact interpretation of the cards, no matter how golf-shoe-to-the-face it may be. Watch their reaction. People who are genuinely at their wit's end will be exasperated, people who are lying will get defensive and angry. Do another string of four, laid above or below the first. Compare the messages in the cards. Do so aloud, and with honesty.

You just aren't taking me seriously/don't understand/are an asshole.

Then we're done. For every one person who is honestly in need of advice or assistance, there will be a very large number who aren't. That's fine. You just don't need to waste your time convincing either of you otherwise. If your time and energy are met with the above, chances are this is not someone who's business you want to get entangled with anyway. They're an ingrate, and no matter what you do, they will never attribute success to it. Therefore, they'll feel cheated, and may cause you trouble later on.

Follow your reading, if it is taken poorly, with "Well, this is what I'm receiving. This is the information I have available to me. If you had conflicting stories like these presented to you, you'd also distance yourself. I'm sorry, I can't help you."

But... why?

Sometimes your reading will make a light go on. Not that the person coming to you was lying, but that maybe they didn't quite understand the situation in it's entirety. Your reading may flick on a light in a room filled with some uncomfortable things. This is where you have to resort to, in Terry Pratchett's words "Headology". If they are convinced a monster is after them give them a metaphorical shotgun and a large chair to stand on. Give them rituals for protection, for cleansing, and to fortify themselves. Invest their belief fully into it, and it will solve the problem, psychological or real.

If you've just informed them that their lover is cheating, and not really afflicted by malevolent spell-work, give them time to assimilate the data, and come to their own conclusions. DO NOT suggest that you immediately get on a reconciliation spell, or a vengeance spell. That's a dick move.

Is it worth it?

Once or twice a season, in the life of a Witch, someone will come along with work that needs doing. Dirty work. Extremely unpleasant, nasty, dirty work. Curses, revenge, hexing, blasting and even death-dealing. Someone may come along requesting In-tranquil Spirit, or Death Unto My Enemies-related work. Is it worth it?

I don't have the moral compass of some neo-wiccan folk. I see "dark" work (a topic for another entry entirely) as a natural part of what makes a Witch a damn Witch. If we'd concerned ourselves ONLY with healing, fertility of crops, and making folks feel better about themselves there never would've been a persecution. But there also would've been a lot of murderers who never tripped up, a lot of cheating ex-lovers who never got exposed, and a lot of unhappy marriages. The power of the witch lies in healing AND hexing, and our ancestors knew this one in a way we've long-since forgotten. Meting out a little Karma is our natural place, in my opinion. Delivering swift kicks to the asses, or swift (metaphorical) bullets to the head, of deserving individuals who do terrible things is a divine gift we've been given. We'd be morons to ignore it in favor of feel-good buzzwords.

That said, there are times when the vengeance is unwarranted. Joe Schmoe did nothing. Jill Frill just wants to make him suffer because he left her. This leaves the Witch in a position of a difficult decision: Is it worth my time, energy, and financial investment (Regardless of whether I get it back) to make Joe get a wicked case of penile-dripping just because he left Jill for someone who probably isn't quite so quick to -want- his penis dripping?

For some of us, once the palm is crossed with enough silver, the costs are fair. We make the petitioner swear to accept any backlash, be it legal, financial, emotional, mental or spiritual - as this is work for hire, ultimately belonging squarely at their feet. But the toll it takes from us, whatever it may be, is fine and dandy if the bills get paid on time.

For others, no amount of money, no effort, and no compensation is worth it.

A Fair Price for a Fair, or Foul, Work.

Whenever I do Work for hire, I have a scheme by which I calculate the value of the work. This scheme may be valuable for other practitioners to apply to their own practices, and figure out something that works for them.

1: Hourly wages. I expect to make no less than $X per hour for my time, and manual skill, and expect the work to last Z hours in total, over Y length of time.

1a: Energy. What personal toll will it take? Does it involve exceptional risk, or difficult shennanigans? Will it run counter to my usual practices, requiring me to later kiss ass with some of the entities I work with to get things right again? Should I receive any additional compensation for this?

1b: Asshole Tax: How hard is the person to deal with? How much of my time will they take up, in addition to the time spent on the Work itself? How much do I expect to earn per total hour of time spent with them?

2: Supplies. All materials involved, in last known purchase-price, multiplied by one and a half, or two times. This covers not only the cost of getting the materials if I do not have them, but covers any potential price-shift. I also calculate not by the price at which I have to replace them. I.e. I cannot buy one spoonful of Gum Mastic over the internet, I have to buy it by the ounce. Generally, I split the difference between the by-used, and by-purchase price. If I have to buy the supply, or replace my own stock - I shouldn't HAVE to take that hit.

I add all of these totals up, and come up with an estimate. I suggest rounding the estimate to a "round" number, to forestall any curiosity, and coming up with a "payment plan". For trustworthy people it's the supply total as a down payment, followed by the remainder. For others it's half down, or even the full cost, with any remainder upon completion.

An Example

Let's say I expect to make about $25 an hour, which is not unreasonable for a professional in a niche field. Let's say that I expect that, over the course of a 7-day spell, I'll spend about 3-4 hours in total time, including prep, over that 7 days. The person is amiable, and I doubt they'll cause me any problems with additional time. - $75-$100.

I know that the spell will require two figural candles, two medium tapers, and four chime candles. In addition, it will also require three oils I don't have on hand, and an ink that I don't have the time to make, and am currently out of. - $50-ish. Now, because I know I can re-use the oils, I'll give the person a break on it. - $30-ish.

The total I arrive at is a round $100. It's a nice, tight, even, number. I'm taking a small hit on some of the supplies (why the HELL are figural candles so expensive, anyway?) but I'm also going to add several oils to my "inventory" that I'd previously been out of. I decide to split the difference, and ask $50 up front, $50 on completion of the work assuring spell remains will be nicely packaged, and their additional nation sack will be handmade for them and waiting at the end of the Work. Because of the nature of the work (in this hypothetical case a love/fidelity ensuring spell) I can fairly safely assume the petitioner will return and pay the balance.

$50 at least covers the supplies, gas money/shipping to get them, and the time involved in picking them up. If they do not pay the second half, I have at least not -lost- any money on the venture.

I Won't Pay That / I Won't Pay You At All.

Isn't it great to be a Witch sometimes? Someone asks for your hard work, and refuses to give anything in return. Well, if you haven't -started-, don't. Tie it up, pack up your things and send them on their merry, merry, way. You don't have to be a charity, unless you want to, and if you want to - fine by me. If you've already started, silly you for not taking the cash first, but hey... you're a Witch, and you have probably gotten something that belongs to them by now.

If you've completed the spellwork, they've gotten what they want, and you haven't gotten your money, it's time to employ your own skills to get it. I suggest a "Pay Me" hoodoo-style spell. Be as ruthless as is required.

As a suggestion for ensuring payment: Retain the "concerns" involved in the spellwork. Most spells require that the remains be properly disposed of, usually deployed toward the target's residence, in order to work. Reinforce the NEED for this to be done, whether or not that's exactly true, to ensure the person returns, pays you your money, and takes their bundle. Reinforce that for it to do what it's supposed to, the Work needs to be completed, and if "left hanging", will tend to wander of it's own accord, causing strife.

I hope that this post has been informative, even if it's very frankly worded. I also hope that speaking about money-in-craft doesn't turn too many stomachs. Understand, even though I may love the hell out of you as a person, or feel empathy for you as a human being - I don't live on glitter and air. I need food, water, and electricity. If I'm spending an hour a day tending a spell, that's an hour a day I'm not crafting items, or working at a shift-job. It's money out of my pocket, so money has to go back in.

Monday, August 2, 2010

Something's In the Air

Warning: This entry is going to get sappy, and a little hippy-esque. I apologize in advance.

Another crafty-witch blogged about working on some batches of incense, and I found it amusing. I spent a good portion of the last couple of days working out recipes, and making small test-runs myself. Among these were funerary and necromantic blends, as well as those focused on keeping secrets, consecrating magickal books, and honoring land spirits.

Scent is a weird thing for me. I absolutely adore incense, but cannot stand (and am occasionally physically repelled) by some synthetic scents. Scent, however, is strongly attached to memory for all people - and for someone who has an exceedingly poor memory, it can be magick.

While creating some new recipes, I caught a momentary blend of scents that sent me rushing back to the first time I ever entered an Occult store.

I was in my very, very, early teens. I had a book (probably one by Cunningham) tucked under my arm. With my then-best-friend, and we were browsing incenses. At this time everything was experimental, and tentative. Everything was awkward and I found myself constantly second-guessing not only my intuition, but the material in books. But in that store, surrounded by the mingling scents of Nag Champa incense, patchouli oil, and old books - Magick was alive, real, and palpable. We selected blends designed to evoke the elements - I still have several cones of that incense (Escential Essences "Mystic Forest").

I was never "allowed" to burn incense at home. Which meant that all of my rituals were conducted late at night with a bedroom window open, so that the wafting scent of Magick would not spread through the ductwork and get me a stern yelling-at. To this day there is a secret pleasure in incense. Being able to burn it freely and nearly constantly during my eight month stint out of state was ecstasy! When I light a coal, or punk* magick fills the air with the scent, because what is to follow will be a secret, sacred, joy.

So, while I huddle around The Table Of Doom, rolling cones of "Faun of The Hollow" or beating the scent from Juniper Berries, I revel in the scents flowing up and around me - soaking my skin and hair. They take me back to my roots, to my first spells. To the time when all my magick was sneaking, swift, and clandestine. When it was all new, and filled with secrets.

*Punks are incense sticks, made by dipping "scentless" moulded sticks into oils dissolved in solvents i.e. ALL stick incense. Cones are "punks" as well, manufactured the same way.