Copyright 2015 Brother Moloch/MolochSorcery, All Rights Reserved
In my daily email bag I often get this question a lot from the mainstream on a day to day basis, “Moloch, I want to do X and there’s this book I want to use this spell/ritual from, but I don’t have ___ which is required should I improvise and how or just ignore it all together?”
First off as you well know there are a ton of occult books out there especially the do-it-yourself spell and ritual variety out there on the market today. In fact in our modern society you can pop down to your local Barnes and Noble on your lunch hour, grab one and head back to work. You may even have time to peruse the book and locate a spell or two that catches your fancy.
Now the vast majority of the spell books in print and especially the ones offered on the bookshelves at places like B&N are written by living authors, many of whom are just average folks like you and I. Some of these authors have more experience than you have at magic than you do but in my experience not all that many of these authors are worth reading as you may think. For one thing most are just parrots parroting other parrots so the material they’re presenting is merely rehashed S.O.S.D.B. (Same Old Shit Different Book).
Still, you take time and in browsing your new look the first thing you notice is the author uses a lot of strange ingredients in his spells. Why would you need something like “mother’s milk”? Or maybe another one needs a “scorpion’s tail”? Or a wasp’s nest and three dead wasps. All of a sudden, you’re not in Kansas anymore Dorothy and this is not your typical McWiccan book of scented candles, aromatherapy oils, Reiki, crystals and other new age stuff. No, you’ve got a book based off someone’s personal book of shadows OR the perhaps the author added the exotic ingredients to jazz up his spells to give them more of an authentic lair.
Understand that American Wiccans are a mellower lot than European Wiccans are. Most of our American Wiccans have a lot of new age ideas and practices mixed in with their material (which is not bad per se just explaining the main difference between American VS European Wicca as I see it). Also realize that we have traditions like Hoodoo here in the US that has much more in common with European Wicca by way of the fact if a spell calls for a black cat bone, that is what is needed not a chicken bone. If you’ve never heard of the infamous Toad Bone that is used by European Wiccans then you should do some research as it has some common elements with the Black Cat Bone rite of southern US Hoodoo lore. Thus generally you won’t find the call for such ingredients in your typically American Wicca books of magic.
So you’re reading you nifty new tome, discover something you need and perhaps it’s a vulture’s gizzard so you begin searching the net and you find my website and send me the above question in your innocuous question. Expecting me to side with you fully but discovering that I refuse to comment on another author’s work. Well stop and ask yourself WHY don’t you simply write the author of the book you purchased? You obviously felt confident enough in his book’s pretty cover, layout, charts or whatever it was that lured you into buying it, so look up the author’s name on Facebook and send him/her an email with your question. Asking me about your dilemma is kind of ignorant especially since the author is still living, breathing and willing to answer your questions. Trust me, all small time occult authors have time to answer your questions. They’re not that busy.
Now what if the book’s author is someone like Peter Paddon, Mike Howard or Andrew Chumbley who are no longer alive? Well now this is a entirely different story because if the original author is no longer around to answer your question, then you have no other recourse but to use some common sense and plod on ahead. So let’s look at how I, Brother Moloch, dealt with these issues years ago when I was first starting out and standing in your shoes.
SPELLS TROUBLE AHEAD
There’s this silly belief, especially among the McWiccan community, that the only spells worth knowing and using are the ones you create yourself. That’s moronic thinking. Whoever is teaching and spreading this garbage around, please stop. Why? Because this is akin to a chef believing the only food worth eating is the food he himself makes. Or the only vehicle worth driving is the one a automotive mechanic built for himself.
A novice practitioner should not be going around trying to rouse spiritual forces on his/her own in any manner he sees fit with whatever willy nilly ideas that pop into their fool head. Only a misinformed soul teaches something as outrageous as this. ONE might as well give a child a loaded shot gun and let them wander the neighborhood, eh? Yet that’s what the McWiccans do. The mind of a Novice practitioner is not ready nor spiritually mature enough to go about summoning magic without some sort of structure and recourse in case things go awry.
Remember that some structure is put in there so that the Novice will have a course and a recourse instead of blindly following along and then being scared witless because “Gee this stuff works” and all of a sudden for some reason the Novice now has poltergeist activity in their temple/home. I’ve found after the first few years with some basic structure, guidance and a healthy dose of common sense, most Novices weather the storm well enough and can fly solo.
Now regardless of tradition, a novice practitioner should be monitored and regulated by his teacher, guardian, watcher, HP/HPS, whoever is claiming to be responsible for them. The exercises and techniques given to the Novice should be of a high quality to allow the student to open his psychic abilities without allowing themselves any sort of injurious effect. Typically you do not give a first year Novice the knowledge of how to summon and open doorways into the realms of spirits as that could be disastrous. Even the military is careful giving loaded guns to new recruits and only allow the recruits live ammunition under strict, supervised conditions. Sometimes caution is a good thing.
Also a Novice should be given a technique or ritual (for an example the Middle Pillar) and have it explained on how it is used on a regular basis for practice. All too often today, authors and so-called occult teachers want to hand out rituals to their students only to neglect informing them anything about the ritual and simply have them use it to examine their feelings. Please! This isn’t some philosophical knitting class, it’s the occult!! You want feelings, go talk to Wayne Dyer. Here we’re working on helping the student to develop his/her mystical and sorcerous abilities as best as they can so you do not give them rituals without explanation and tell them how and where such rites should be employed.
Yet often while the Novice is working on these daily techniques and working towards a better tomorrow, life interferes and knocks them for a loop. What to do? More often than not your typical spiritual teacher is a blithering idiot who will spout some claptrap like “It’s the universe’s will” or some such ignorant platitude while you and your family starve because your employer is a damn fool who makes poor judgments in the stock market. Platitudes don’t pay the bills and neither does love, brotherly or otherwise.
So you pick up this nifty looking book you bought on your lunch. You want to do this nifty spell in it for money but it requires the use of some obscure ingredient like a vulture’s gizzard which there is no way you can procure this item legally or otherwise. Hell, you’re not even sure you could find a vulture if you wanted and if you did, you know you don’t have the stomach nor the intestinal fortitude to kill and tear into a living thing like that for such a rare ingredient. And at this juncture let’s presume that author is neither around nor answer emails.
PROCESS OF ELIMINATION
Step One: Ask yourself, “What is the purpose of this ingredient in this spell?” Before you can go changing something, you need to know what it is and how it is used first or the old saw, 'Ya gotta know the rules before you can bend and then break them'. I’ve never interacted with nitroglycerin yet I know what it is, how it's used and no I have no desire to ever touch the stuff. In this example the vulture's gizzard is the key. Here is where you will try to reverse engineer the spell by examining each ingredient and hopefully the book’s author will discuss some of the ingredients and why they’re included. Often though this is not the case so you are left to figure things out on your own.
Step Two: Research the ingredient for its folklore, mythic and historical associations. This is sometimes the most painstaking aspect especially if you have a lot of reference materials to pore though as you can be reading for hours until you find a reference. However the easiest way everyone will take is what? Google. If I had a nickel for every piece of junk link Google brought me regarding a query I entered, I’d have enough to own Google. Research that relies on websurfing is at best juvenile and shows you are not a scholar let alone even a halfway decent HS student.
Obviously you MAY get a hit every now and then on an exotic or strange ingredient however that’s rare. To find such though you have to be smart as well as tenacious in your searching online. Typically to find folklore you have to enter folklore + then enter what it is you’re looking for or in this case it’d be
mythology + folklore + vultures + gizzards
and see what would pop up in Google. It’s possible some old European folklore or perhaps some southern US Hoodoo or Conjure folklore exists online that mentions this. Most likely you’re going to have to references hard copies of reference books on folklore to find information on something like this. Remember the vast majority of websites are wholly misinformed and simply copied from someone else’s work which may or may not be accurate. Most times they're not accurate so don't use the net in your research except to look for book sources and of those look for the scholarly sources first as they're going to be the ones that are most accurate.
There are books on folklore and mythology so it may be you need to look in books on myth and legend to find out who is associated with a vulture. Is there a name of a spirit in the ritual’s words? A deity’s name for example? Something you can look up perhaps in a Larousse book on mythology and find some scant reference to the vulture?
Also, it is possible that the term you’re researching, in this example, vulture gizzard, is a folklore name of a plant known in Medieval and old European times? There are lists of such plants with often horrid sounding names for you to look up. Currently, there is a website called Witchipedia and they have a listing of herbs by folklore names. For instance “Semen of Herakles” is arugula; “Sparrow’s Tongue” is knotweed; “Lion’s Tooth” is dandelion; “Frog’s Foot” is bulbous buttercup; “Calf’s Snout” is Snapdragon; and so on. So before you go presuming that the ingredient IS some animal or insectoid part, check this database and others for plant folklore first. You may be looking for a plant and nothing more.
Step Three: Meditate then sleep on the ingredient. While this may seem a little new age for many of you, I assure you it is not. Too many of you live in books and have lost your way where your abilities and connections to the natural world are concerned. You fear your abilities are not strong enough to make a real connection so you chuck this in favor of books or someone else who can confirm or deny your assumptions. What you need is a healthy dose of self-reliance and self-confidence. Trust your inner instincts. If you do not start now, you will never do so. Also you may get assistance from an ancestor on what the ingredient is and how its used via your dreams.
First try actively meditating on the vulture gizzard and see what your mind can think of when it is entirely focused on the problem. You may be pleasantly surprised that your mind is more brilliant than you give yourself credit for and it may come to you while thinking about it in this manner. Secondly, you can try passive meditation where after you've focused on this issue for a while then you calm your mind and allow whatever to bubble up to the surface. Realize these are not simple techniques that can just be done easily enough as they require time and patience to garner results.
Step Four: Talk to the plant until it begins talking back to you. This is a bit of advice I once obtained from a very old black rootworker in South Florida back in my formative years when I was first starting out. He said that this was how the slaves did it because the plants here were not the same as found in Africa so the witch-doctors who were slaves would spend time talking to plants until the plant’s spirit finally spoke back to them and told them many things about their plant. Now obviously this step won’t work with an animal or insectoid part like it does with a plant so it is an extra step you can use for when you need to use roots and plants in your sorceries. However it DOES work and like all techniques requires patience and commitment for it to work properly.
Step Five: Try Divination. Use divination to see if it’s acceptable to the spirits to delete, alter or change the ingredient and if so what will be the spell’s outcome for doing so. Sometimes this is the only way you can be certain of whether or not this is a wise idea. Further you also need to look at what the end result will be regardless of changing the spell’s dynamic by substitution. Ask the spirits and they will answer you. Here you can use Tarot, Runes, Geomancy or whatever is your preferred method of divination. My suggestion is to use the Holy Astragals as explained elsewhere in this text because the Astragals are a form of sortilege used for direct communication with spirits. Even if you have all of the ingredients, it never hurts to find out how the spirits feel about performing the spell because you may discover doing the spell is unnecessary as the desired result is already on its away.
At this time you should begin to be getting some idea of what the ingredient is used for both in cultural folklore as well as what the ingredient speaks to you through dreams and inspiration. With this knowledge you should be able to research and discover the meanings for plants as well as animal and insectoid parts.
By insectoid I’m speaking of course about crabs, scorpions, and other crustaceans that are often used in spellwork by African Religious Systems as well as the whole of the insect kingdom from ants to wasps. You may not be running into such animal parts if all you are doing is Wiccan or Ceremonial Magic but I can assure you there are workers and workings that involve these parts. However in older works of magic such as the Greek Magical Papyri as translated by Hans Dieter Betz which is a collection of papyrus documents that offer spells, incantations and some of these have very exotic ingredients for their spells.
Putting It All Together
So by now you’ve done some research and you’ve discovered that vultures are sacred to the Greek gods Pallas, Herakles (who slew the vulture who kept tearing out Prometheus’ liver) and in Egypt we find that several deities are associated with this bird such as Isis, Maat and Hathor. Interestingly enough in Egypt the vulture’s name was “Pharaoh’s Hen”. So trying to whittle down which deity the gizzard part may refer to won’t be easy however my first choice would be Prometheus due to his liver (another internal organ) being ripped out and thus an interesting idea of the bird’s gizzard being used in a spell.
Now let’s presume the original example spell is for prosperity that uses a vulture gizzard. How old is this spell purported to be? Modern spells rarely require ingredients form living animals and creatures so this spell might possibly be from hundred plus years ago. Is it one of the Witch herbs using such a name with a common herb? Thus far we find nothing to indicate such so we can rule that out.
When we Google the words “bird’s gizzard”, we come up with:
“Gizzard, in many birds, the hind part of the stomach, especially modified for grinding food. Located between the saclike crop and the intestine, the gizzard has a thick muscular wall and may contain small stones, or gastroliths, that function in the mechanical breakdown of seeds and other foods.”
So we can see that the gizzard’s function is to ‘break down’ food for the bird. In this spell, the function of the bird’s gizzard appears to be to break down the elements of the spell so that it passes onto the spirits more favorably. If such is the case, then we can dispense with the use of this ingredient all together as we have other ways of getting the spirits to favorably accept our spell.
Yet before we go willy-nilly deleting things, we need to look at the rest of the spell and determine whether or not the deletion of this ingredient will put the spell out of balance. If so, then we need to find something to re-establish balance so the spell works properly. Since the gizzard is a grinding mechanism for the bird, we could use a mortar & pestle as a suitable substitute and perhaps a vulture feather sitting inside the mortar next to the pestle. This would make an acceptable substitute for the vulture’s gizzard.
Do you see that there is a thought process at work here? This is not just something we do because we cannot obtain a live vulture. Frankly there are places to buy live vultures if you truly wanted one. However we are modern, adult and cultured individuals not uncouth nor uncivilized Neanderthals running around knocking birds out with rocks and sticks so that we may rob them of their body parts. There are places to buy feathers - including vulture feathers - and you can always buy an inexpensive mortar and pestle for your spellwork at just about any sort of metaphysical store and pharmacy.
Instead of ignoring a cool spell because you can’t find a particular ingredient, think about finding an acceptable substitute as suggested here. Just do NOT go looking on some list of correspondences and choose something which most times won’t work. Rather take time and plan out your rites and spells ahead of time (yes I’m afraid Mr. Procrastinator this means you) so that you have time to review the ingredients needed and can get them if necessary or find suitable substitutes.
Copyright 2015 Brother Moloch/MolochSorcery, All Rights Reserved