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Forms of Magic in Traditional Mentality
article [ Culture ]
Part IV: The Powers and the Tools of Magic

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by [wind ]

2003-11-14  |     | 

1. The Powers of Magic

It is said that magic has seven special powers:

1.The power of healing
2.The power of transcending space and time
3.The power of revealing the secrets of the future and the past
4.The power of searching and finding
5.The power of being invisible
6.The power of love, rain and tempest
7.The power of entering any house and seeing beyond any walls or door (Magia Vrăjitoarelor, 2002, 1: 27).

There is no doubt that magic is an art, a power conferred by the spirituality and the experience of humanity. The ones who have this gift transcend the limits of normality. They can heal the body and the soul. Maybe this is the reason why the Romanian witches prefer to call themselves “healers”. In traditional societies, the sick used to go to sorceress or old women because they believed that certain malefic spirits had provoked their illness.
Those spirits could be conjured away only by “authorized” persons. From this point of view, magic is the precursor of medicine.
Space and time don’t follow the normal rules when it is about witches. The witches can go anywhere and wherever without any restriction. The future and past tend to unite with the present. There is no mystery that cannot be read. The shaman is allowed to have “trips” to Hell and to the world of gods using the incredible force of the Cosmic Tree . The wizard is the great teacher, the one who searches, finds and perceives the mystery of the universe yet, as the same time is not allowed to reveal it to mortals. He’s the one who can wield the great forces of nature such as rain, wind, dryness or feelings and destinies.

2. Magic Tools

In magic, tools –although not strictly necessary - are used. They can serve different functions such as to direct energy and to help focusing the will and mind. Some tools (figurines, statues, pictures) act as representations of the victims.
1.The wand, the sign of fire, refers to will, energy and magic power. It casts the spell on the person chosen. In order to keep its magic, it can’t be seen or used by strangers. The wand was replaced in black magic by pitchfork and is used in the spirit invocation ceremonials.
2.The knife is the sign of air and has to be protected from sunlight. Its shaft has to be rifted during the night.
3.The human bone is the sign of the earth.
4.The glass with “seven waters from seven springs”, which symbolize the seven celestial spheres, contains the “magic water”, which is a mixture of water, ash and salt. In black magic it was replaced with the crystal bowl. (Magia Vrăjitoarelor, 2002, 1 : 30).

These are the four main magical tools; they represent the four main elements –air, water, earth, fire - and are used in almost all the spells. Of course, there are other tools, too, which have to be charmed before each important ceremony. They have to be exorcised with magic water, salt and ash, and holly oils. To breathe upon them is to establish a very deep connection between the witch and the tools:
¡the spindle made of cherry tree or sycamore maple wood;
¡wooden spoon;
¡a cowry;
¡a lock with three keys, used for bindings and unbindings;
¡a nettle twine;
¡scissors with silver shaft;
¡a new cruse containing fresh water;
¡salt and grain taken from a death watch;
·a little bag containing some soil taken from a virgin’s grave;
¡fish flipper used for water charms;
¡black cat bones for the materialization of the unseen;
·a dead man’s tooth, nail or bone for spells made between the edge of the worlds;
·a black cock’s breastbone;
¡sulphurous ash, used in casting of Energy Fields and Magic Missiles and in the spells requiring a quick burst of light or a sustained glow;
¡spider silk
¡blood moss, a deep red fungus that attacks the grains; used in spells of movement, from the simplest levitation to making the very earth tremble;
¡nightshade, a very poisonous mushroom which has to be picked up during the night;
¡pentagram, the symbol of protection against the evil forces, if worn upwards, and of attracting them, if worn upside-down;
¡altar represents a connection between the performer and the superior forces; on the altar witches can place things required by tradition or by their own preferences;
The most dangerous place where witches work only with spirits is the whirlpool- the closest place to Hell. It is protected by its own power. Only the most experienced witches are allowed to practice the most dangerous rituals of black magic: the casting of terrible curses and quicksilver, and the almost unbreakable fire spells. It is believed that during certain nights, when the gates of Hell are open and the light is at peace with the darkness, the spells are nine times more powerful and almost unbreakable. (Magia Vrăjitoarelor, 2002,1 :30).
To prepare all kinds of substances, liquids, poisons, ointments, For preparing all kinds of substances, liquids, poisons, ointments, the witch uses a lot of elements, some of them quite strange: woman hair, frog brain, mole blood, snake skin, echini blood and intestine.

3. Plants

The role of plants has been evoked since very ancient times. They have not been used only as food but also as medicine. The dysfunctions of the human body or soul could be eliminated using certain substances extracted from plants. Some of them could be used by everyone, others only by “initiated” persons such as healers, witches or shamans. The plants were called “sacramental” and were part of the magic world of rituals.
According to Richard Alan Miller (Utilizarea magică şi rituală a ierburilor, 1996:7) the ritual is the exterior manifestation of man’s need to surpass the limits imposed by a common reality in order to become part of a much more important existence. Ritual is also the visible aspect of the inner universe.
The rituals are used in order to wake feelings and to establish a sensorial communication. They confer grace and style to the performer and his actions, preventing the incertitude and the loss of energy whilst intensifying the atmosphere with the help of a certain symbolism.
Psychologists see rituals as a celebration of myths, emotions, feelings and symbols. We can say that symbols originate in the inner reality, being projected to the outside by a magical act. The art of magic combines science with rituals. The use of plants is no more considered an occult procedure, but a science. Imagine you drink a banal chamomile tea. It is a very simple procedure: you boil water and put the plant into a cup. But what if, while preparing the tea, you sing an old charm, or say ambiguous words? Suddenly, the tea becomes something else. A ritual? Could be…
The healers, magicians and witches have exploited certain plants in personal or common purposes, as follows:
The opium brings about moments of dreaming, calm, insanity, dizziness, according to the dose. The henbane put into food provokes insane, sardonic laughter, anger, and nightmares. The mandrake is one of the most used plants in witchcraft; depending on concentration, it can give delirium, spasms, death, or it simply accelerates the pulse. Dropped on open wounds it induces sleep and if it is put in the eyes, determines doubled images. In small quantities, cannabis has calmative effects, but in combination with amber, poppy, and jasmine essence cannabis has aphrodisiac properties; with wine, can induce a pleasant drunkenness and loquacity. In big doses, cannabis can provoke cataleptic states.
These are the most used purposes and plants in magic:
¡protection: agrimony, aloe, blueberry, cactus, caraway, garlic;
¡prosperity: alfalfa, honeysuckle, onion, sassafras;
¡luck: aloe, cabbage, pear, strawberry, violet;
¡love: apricot, elm, ginger, pimento, valerian;
¡purification: clove, hyssop, oak, turmeric;
¡astral projection: mandrake;
¡prophetic dreams: ash;
¡return the evil to the sender: agrimony, blackthorn;
¡lust: carrot, sesame, vanilla;
¡youth: lavender, tansy;
¡divination: angelica, dandelion, ground ivy, willow, yarrow;
¡exorcism: clover, lilac;
¡psychic powers: briar, citron, vanilla, walnut, rue;
¡fertility: agaric, banana, carrot, rice;
¡health: apple, geranium, henna .

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