Hello and thank you for joining me today, and I am excited to get to our discussion today, but first I want to just mention a couple things. First, beginning this past Tuesday, I’ll be releasing a bonus episode every week. These episodes will be guided meditations, not too long, typically between five and thirty minutes depending on the goal of the particular meditation. These Tuesday meditation episodes will not replace the regular episodes, they’re just a little mid-week reprieve. So there’s that, and then secondly, I wanted to just mention the new moon tomorrow.
We did a whole episode on moon magick, but I just feel like going through some potential new moon intentions again. We have all been going through it for the last several weeks in terms of astrological events and moon energy and eclipses and such, so I want to just take a minute to reiterate how powerful the new moon can be. This is the moon phase we look to when we are searching for wisdom, when we’re doing work that requires us to look inward and be very introspective. When we want illumination in a situation or area of our lives that we are having trouble seeing clearly, when we seek hidden knowledge, and when we are working on our shadow selves. The new moon is a good time for banishing work, but maybe surprisingly, it can also be the best moon phase for new undertakings.
The best workings for a new moon (in my completely subjective opinion) are those times when we are trying to start something brand new from scratch, something that is going to need to grow and build upon itself. Spellwork for new projects that we are beginning from the absolute ground up are going to be really well supported by this energy.
In addition, I think the new moon is the best time of month for doing the work of facing our shadow selves, of really looking at our true selves full in the face and acknowledging the things we do and the ways we think that we aren’t really super proud of or that we are in denial about. You know, we can hide a lot about ourselves from the outside world, but we can hide it from ourselves too. The new moon is an opportunity to pull those aspects of ourselves out into the light and, if not change those things, at least to confront them. The new moon assists us with beauty, beginnings, darkness and destruction, self-improvement, psychic abilities, and renewal in all its forms.
So I am grateful for this new moon tomorrow, I feel like we could all use this energy. And lastly before we get to the point today, I wanted to mention that I got a follow-up email from a witch who had written in some months ago looking for a resolution for an issue she was having with an really awful boss:
Hi, Eli. I had asked about an issue with my boss a while back. I followed one of your suggestions and made a honey jar. I wanted to let it charge for a few full moons before I let you know how it worked.
At the beginning I was definitely waiting for the other shoe to drop, so to speak. Things were better but I was uneasy that it wouldn’t last. Now, over 3 months have passed and it is still working. This has also given me confidence to do more spell work. Thanks so much for your help!
And I loved this. It’s always really gratifying to hear back from people who have reached out with questions about spells and such and to hear that things have worked out just as we had hoped is the very best feeling. And I was really thrilled to hear that this witch is continuing to charge her honey jar every month and the full moon. Sometimes it’s easy, once things start to go the way that we had hoped, to just drop the maintenance work. But this witch is still walking the walk and I am so happy about all of this. And now, let’s talk about High Magick.
Now, this is a topic that was suggested by a witch called Catie, and we have spoken about elements of high magick before, but today we are going to really dissect it and talk about what makes it different to other forms of magickal discipline and we are going to talk about why it might be something that we are interested in incorporating into our own practices.
It can be a little intimidating, or a lot intimidating, to be honest. So the term itself, High Magick, is also known as ceremonial magick, and this term is a little more explanatory, in my limited opinion, because it’s more descriptive. This is what makes it High Magick, the ceremony. The pomp and circumstance, the ritual of it, the props and the tools and the robes and the scripts that are used to perform it. So we will begin by talking about different elements that comprise high magick, but we also need to acknowledge that this will mean different things to different witches.
High magick as a term became popularized as a way to describe ritualistic magick practices by the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn. This group was completely preoccupied with the occult, with esoteric practices and especially with this sort of hierarchical, graduated organization wherein an initiate would have to have very extensive knowledge of the group’s tenets and would also have to participate in really elaborate ceremonies and rituals in order to advance within the group’s ranks.
And there’s a whole controversy over their so-called rites and initiations and the Cipher Manuscripts, which is what they used to build their initiatory rites and so on, but the fact is that they were obsessed with ceremony. It was so intrinsic to their particular brand of magick that it could be argued that the rituals themselves became the entire point. The Golden Dawn were also quite elitist, so it comes as no surprise at all that this group would consider their own practices High Magick. This by definition alone relegates every other kind of magickal practice to some lesser status.
Now, I don’t think of magick in terms of High Magick versus Low Magick, but we are here to talk about what it means, not argue the relative merits of the phraseology. So. High Magick is ceremonial and ritualistic and very fancy-pants. And it makes sense to practice so-called High Magick in the context of a large organization performing group rituals, if for no other reason than so everyone understands what they’re supposed to be doing, where they’re supposed to stand, what they’re meant to say, and so on. And it’s therefore not surprising at all that a lot of organized sects rely a great deal on high magick. Not just among the Golden Dawn, but among Luciferians, and Gardnerian Wiccans, and so on. And this is where I do need to be very careful.
There is some difference of opinion among different practitioners and different sects, as to what exactly high magick is, so we will have to allow that not everyone is going to sign off on one, single, unified definition. Witches can most certainly borrow from both sides of the dividing line between magick and high magick and probably most of us do. Wiccans for example, may practice very different magick when they’re by themselves observing the full moon or stirring good intentions into their coffee versus when they’re performing ritual with their entire coven.
But it is this kind of formality that is its defining characteristic. High magick or ceremonial magick may rely on a specific sequence of events, such as casting a circle, calling the quarters, invoking a god or goddess. There may be specific altar tools or ritual tools that are required, such as an athame, or a chalice, or an altar cloth. There may be specific words that must be spoken.
Invoking deities will frequently coincide with high magick, in both directions. By that I mean, people will often invoke deities during a high magick ceremony to assist them with their intentions, AND people will perform a high magick ceremony specifically because they wish to invoke a deity. And I get that, if you’re hoping to connect in a meaningful way with a deity, especially one that you don’t know well, you’re going to want to put your best foot forward.
And high magick is nothing if not dramatic and overwrought and Gothic and formal. I mean, if you Google a picture of Aleister Crowley, you’re likely to find images of him in like, pseudo-Egyptian robes holding a staff and so forth. He was all about the theatrics of it. But this is not a criticism at all. A lot of very powerful magick has been performed using these kinds of rituals and costumes and rites. And I will link a few books that talk about high magick in the episode description in case anyone is interested in folding these practices into their own.
Now the question must be asked: is all of this actually necessary? Is High Magick better or more effective than folk magick, or chaos magick, or hoodoo, or any number of other modalities? And the answer is, not really. But also, yes. I will acknowledge that for the most part, I don’t really practice high magick. For the most part, I don’t really feel like I need to. But the fact of the matter is that High Magick is so complex and involved that it can really help to sharpen the focus of the witch or the magician, and to put the practitioner in the correct mindset, and to drown out all of the outside noise of regular old mundane everyday life that makes it difficult to connect to our magick in a meaningful way.
So while it is absolutely possible to get the results we want without chanting and robes and crystal goblets of blessed wine, it can help. From time to time, I personally do use these elements, we could even call them props, when I want to make good and goddamn sure that I get the desired outcome. Because high magick is so very exacting. We have to plan well ahead to perform this kind of work, this is not the kind of spellwork that we throw together at the last minute or without a lot of forethought.
High Magick asks us to plan our spellwork. It wants us to make a list of supplies, and create a sequence of events. It needs us to gather all the elements we will want to incorporate into the work itself. To work on the words we intend to recite, to draw and redraw a sigil we might want to use, or to craft an elaborate altar for the work.
This requires us to set aside time not only to plan the work, but also to perform it. High magick requires us to turn off the ringer, to lock the door, to set aside a ritual robe. Now, again, there is a bit of overlap in most of our daily practice between high magick and magick. Even doing a simple candle spell requires research of color correspondences, and maybe even checking on the moon phase to see if it’s auspicious for the kind of work a witch wants to do. Carving words or symbols on it and dressing it with the appropriate herbs before burning it with intention are all echoes of what happens in High Magick. Faint echoes, absolutely, but echoes nonetheless.
And this is why I think it’s valuable to a witch. When there are large, wide-reaching changes that I want to make in my life, or if I’m working a spell that I want to feel the reverberations of for a long time to come, or if I’m working a spell on someone else’s behalf, I am most definitely going to incorporate aspects of high magick into the mix.
I will write a script, essentially, that includes all of the phrasing that I intend to use, any herbs, candles, ritual tools, etc that I may need, and I will occasionally even draw a schematic of the area that I’m going to be doing the work in so that I don’t forget where I want to put, you know, the candle holders, or the incense burner, or what have you. I will make extensive notes in advance of the ritual because I want to make sure that once I begin, I won’t be interrupted by a ringing phone, or have to leave the circle because I forgot to bring matches, or anything like that.
This can also be a very limiting, constrictive kind of practice though, just to play devil’s advocate a bit and kind of look at it from the other side. This is an exhausting way to practice. If every spell required this kind of planning, research, and execution, I would practice very little magick at all. I just want to be clear that high magick, ritual magick, ceremonial magick has its place. There is a reason that so many practitioners are drawn to this regimented, scripted kind of a practice.
And if you’re a solitary witch, there’s not likely going to be a lot of opportunity to practice this kind of magick unless you create those opportunities. So if a large-scale spell does come to mind, it can’t hurt to do some research and find some rituals that you can tweak and modify and adjust to suit your own needs. This is the essence of witchcraft. We are all standing on the shoulders of the witches who came before us and we will also hold up the witches who come after us. As long as we write down what we do!
God, I can’t believe I haven’t been harping on that this whole time. Write it down, write it all down, take those notes and be meticulous and when the work is all done and you’re satisfied with your results, codify them in your grimoire or your personal spell book. Because that’s how practices become rituals.
So, check out rituals online, watch some youtube videos and see what kind of weird shit witches are getting up to and then take those practices and make them your own. Take my practices and make them your own. Any spell I’ve ever recited on this podcast, any ritual I have ever spoken is yours to bend to your own will. The repetition of the words, the actions, the tools, gives it power and energy and adding your own flavor breathes new life into it.
There’s so much power here, and as much as we can benefit from speaking a quick little incantation into the wind, we can benefit all the more when we take a little time and a little care and create something out of thin air. Create ritual, create ceremony, it’s a powerful way to raise energy. And that’s my time.
Thank you for joining me, please enjoy your new moon tomorrow, and we will talk again soon. My name is Eli Ro, and this has been the Middle-Aged Witch Podcast.
“High Magick” by Damien Echols – https://a.co/d/dxB4kbT