Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore

Jun 12th, 2018 | By | Category: Articles

I often wonder about some of the people who read my books and who have no compulsion in making scathing comments about the content. I don’t expect everyone to like my style, which can often come across as slightly abrasive, but I don’t appreciate being insulted or belittled by those with scant experience in the ways of the witch. It’s usually at this point I will repeat those famous words of Aleister Crowley who was no stranger to a bad press:

Test the average man by asking him to listen to a simple sentence which contains one word with associations to excite his prejudice, fears or passions – he will fail to understand what you have said and reply by expressing his emotional reaction to the critical word

For example, one reviewer for Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore (2012) complained that a spell ‘suggests throwing a plastic container into the sea and letting it go where the tides takes it’, followed by a lecture on ecology – which showed that the complainer hadn’t read the passage properly, or more importantly, even remotely understood its with your charm and letting it go where the tides takes it . I’m wondering what you are thinking when you recommend throwing anything plastic in the ocean ? We have enough plastic refuse in our Oceans . This is not a very eco friendly recommendation for spell work . I urge you to re think this particular spell in subsequent editions.

I had included this charm of ‘confusion and chaos’, i.e. a curse that involved throwing a small medicine bottle into the fast current of an estuary to let the natural currents carry it where it would. I pointed out that there was no way of retrieving this charm, so there were to be no knee-jerk reactions when making the decision to cast it. And that if came back on the returning tide, then if must be retrieved and destroyed since the ‘powers that be’ had rejected the appeal. I also explained that retrieval could be extremely dangerous, so there needed to be sufficient justification for casting the charm [curse] in the first place or there could be serious repercussions, and the sender would only have themselves to blame.

The complainer had made several adverse comments (including an Amazon review) about the casting of small plastic medicine bottles into the briny … but nothing at all about cursing, or showing any understanding of the positive-negative aspects of using this method of casting a curse. Curses generally have a much greater environmental impact than small plastic bottles and the whole point of the exercise was missed because the words: ‘throw a small medicine bottle into the current’ excited the passions of the reader.

There are enough safeguards in the text to make even the most inexperienced of readers stop and think whether it was worth the effort, or risking the dangers of the sea in order to get even with some real or imagined enemy. And if you’d got it wrong and the sea returned the bottle, then there was even further risk to life in attempting to retrieve the offending container. And it was hardly envisaged that thousands of junior-league pagans would be cursing and hurling plastic bottles into the briny just because it was written in a book! All magic has an element of risk to the practitioner and time would be better spent making sure they understood what sort of spell they were undertaking – and if you don’t understand it, then don’t do it!!

The nicest thing, however, that’s ever been said about the Traditional Witchcraft series is that they have the feel of a textbook, written by a poet. I confess, I’m no poet but I often find that poetry contains its fair share of magical truths and use it frequently to illustrate a point, or even to use its rhythm to drive home a spell – or curse, as in The Gage adapted from Walter de la Mare’s poem of that name in By Spellbook and Candle: Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding (2012).

The Gage offers an example of an extremely powerful curse but again we must fully understand what we’re doing before implementing this form of magical retribution. For example: 

O mark me well!

For what my hound befell

You shall pay twenty-fold,

For every tooth

Of his, i’sooth,

Your life in pawn I’ll hold.

Here we are bringing down a curse that is twenty times the number of teeth in the dog’s mouth, which for an average healthy, adult dog is around 42! This means that the magical practitioner must weigh in the balance whether the punishment fits the crime. After all, it would be rather extreme if someone had merely given your dog a clout for attempting to ravish their prize-winning bitch! That said, this curse used against any act of cruelty against a dog – intentional or unintentional – might be seen to be justifiable and one I would not hesitate to use. Cursing, like most areas of magic, is a question of personal responsibility and/or morality but once thrown it cannot be retracted.


Pagan Portals: By Spellbook & Candle – Cursing, Hexing, Bottling & Binding

ISBN 978 1 78099 563 2 UK£4.99/US$9.95 


Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore

ISBN: 978 1 84694 426 0 UK£9.99/US$16.95

One Comment to “Traditional Witchcraft for the Seashore”

  1. Lucya Starza says:

    Sympathy. Negative reviews suck, don’t they? Someone posted a negative review about Pagan Portals – Candle Magic, complaining that it was only about candle magic! I wonder if they even read the title?

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