Prayer vs. Spellwork

You hear a lot about this in Pagan circles: that spellwork is essentially the same thing as prayer. You hear it especially when dealing with a potentially fearful public wondering exactly what it is Pagans, Wiccans, and Witches are up to. Even with people who try to put a skeptical face on the whole notion of magic, there remains a little nugget of doubt, worries about Hollywood style devil worship, human sacrifice, etc. So to sooth the troubled brow of the general, nominally Christian, public and to convince people that modern Witches are basically harmless there came into being the claim that “all spellwork is just like a prayer.”  People understand prayer. It’s familiar. It’s safe.

It’s also completely inaccurate!

Yes, there is a segment of magical practice that is tied directly to prayer. “Religious magic” is universal across all faiths regardless of whether they acknowledge it as magic or not. The Catholic Mass is a classic example of ceremonial high magic that calls on the divine power of deity to intervene and shape the course of perceptions and reality in order to transform wafers and wine into the body and blood of Christ. Another example is a consecration ritual where a Witch calls down the power of the Gods to bless themselves and their tools, transforming a regular wine glass into a Chalice, a fancy stick into a Wand. What makes these forms of magic “the same thing as prayer” is that they call on the direct assistance and/or intervention of deity on some level to change reality.

But don’t for a minute think that all prayer or religious magic is harmless.  Try reading through the Book of Psalms sometime.  Those are prayers originally designed to be used as religious magic and a LOT of them deal with specifically with causing the death of people those saying the prayer are pissed off at, even if they rarely if ever actually work anymore.

When deity is involved in any magical working, the eventual outcome of the work is usually left up to the whim of the deity invoked. Plus, according to most surveys, people who pray regularly will admit that the vast majority of their prayers go unanswered or they will hedge their bets by claiming the prayer was answered, it’s just that the answer was “no.” So if Jesus rarely answers Christian prayers, they can rest comforted in the belief that the Moon Goddess will rarely answer the prayers of the local Witch, making Witchcraft and magic no more reliable… and no more dangerous… than Sunday morning prayers.

Claiming that spellwork and magic are no different than prayer is giving the fearful congregation down at the local Baptist Church a comforting reassurance that we are all in the same boat when it comes to being powerless to actually direct the course of our own lives, that all we can do is muddle through with whatever Life throws at us because “God” is actually in charge, not us, and it is reassuring them that even we Witches have no power on our own.

“Secular” (meaning non-religious) spellwork does not involve asking for the intervention of any divine being on our behalf. Spellwork is power, direct and personal. Spellwork is deliberately and precisely gathering the ambient energies around us, raising and concentrating our own personal energies, maybe combining those energies together with the energies of crystals, herbs, candles and directing it into the universe in order to achieve a specific change in reality, be it ours or someone else’s. Spellwork is taking charge of our lives directly and personally. It is the ultimate expression of personal responsibility. It is not necessarily discounting the existence of the divine. It’s saying to the universe that “I am the captain of my own life. My successes and failures are my own.”

The difference between religious magic/prayer and spellwork is asking “Lord help me do well on this interview so I can get this job” versus charging a quartz crystal for strength, confidence and eloquence, and wearing a yellow tie or scarf (yellow for stimulating the intellect, and to draw in success) and a blue shirt (blue enhances communication skills), and visualizing yourself shaking hands with your new boss while he or she welcomes you to the team. In this case you are taking your own energies and intentionally combining it with the energy of the crystal and the vibrational energies of specific colors to help influence the outcome of the interview without relying on the external intervention of deity.

Now this is not to imply that I think spellwork is superior to the other, or that one is more or less effective than the other. There is nothing wrong with preferring religious magic over “secular” spell work. I use both depending on the circumstances as do most of the Witches I know. All I am trying to do is get people to think about the inaccuracy of automatically telling people that prayer and spellwork are exactly the same for no other reason than to make spellwork, Witchcraft, and therefore ourselves seem “harmless.”

Religious magic/prayer and secular spellwork both have the potential to change reality, for good or ill, but they are not the same thing. And never forget that when you make your magic “harmless,” regardless of which you choose to work with, you also run the very real risk of making your magic ineffective.  There is a very fine line between “harmless” and “useless.”


End of an Era: Raymond Buckland

It is being reported that renowned author, Witch, and founder of Seax-Wica, Raymond Buckland has passes away. One of the first books on modern Paganism I ever read was Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft, and while ultimately I did not choose to walk a Wiccan path I will forever be grateful for the books and information he chose to share with the world.  Although I never had the opportunity to meet him, he was a huge influence on the Pagan community and he will be missed.



“Kitchen Witchery” Yep, Another Witch Posting an Opinion on This Topic

One of the fastest growing types of Witchcraft these days judging by the sudden proliferation of books and the fact it was one of the most requested areas of interest on my old website is “Kitchen Witchery.” There are probably all kinds of reasons for this, but personally I think it is because people everywhere are looking to save money and time while still pursuing a magical lifestyle. There still exists a rather pervasive belief that for magic to be effective and powerful you have to utilize all sorts of exotic, and expensive, tools and materials. It is my belief that this misconception is a holdover from the days when ceremonial magic and alchemy were at the height of their power and popularity and were seen as being reserved for the educated upper classes and “folk magic” was deemed the quaint superstitions of the lower classes. It is from many of the traditions of folk magic that Kitchen Witchery was born.

Kitchen Witchery is the deceptively simple yet immensely powerful magic of hearth and home. It is magic practiced using everyday objects rather than exotic and expensive “ritual tools.” It uses the Witch’s favorite kitchen knife instead of a fancy athame, regular cooking spices, herbs and flowers from the garden over exotic components from around the globe, and common cooking pots instead of fancy iron cauldrons. For every expensive, hard to find “spell component” out there you can find a common, inexpensive local substitute that is just as effective. For example, “dragon’s blood” is a dark red resin that comes from a specific tree that grows in the Middle East and even if you have access to a magical supply store can be difficult to find. However, in the more than 25 years I have been practicing witchcraft, I have yet to find a single use for dragon’s blood that cannot be just as effectively accomplished using cinnamon from the local grocery store.

I know there are people out there who will argue with me on this, and that is their right, but for me the two are infinitely interchangeable. And last but not least is the cost savings. A single ounce of powdered dragon’s blood sells here in Salem for an average of $7 while a 4 oz. bottle of cinnamon sells for $2.95 at the store. If you want to add a little something special to your cinnamon when using it for magic, get the sticks and a spice grater. As a bonus, you can add the cinnamon to sugar and sprinkle on your morning toast! But probably the most important aspect of using cooking spices over more exotic magical herbs is the fact that they aren’t likely to kill you if you forget to wash your hands after working with them. Nor will they poison your toddler if he or she happens to get into your spice rack.

Kitchen Witchery is quiet, subtle, and unassuming. It is also vastly underestimated as a force to be reckoned with by many people in the magical community. It should never be assumed that a Kitchen Witch doesn’t know how to work the more formalized ceremonial style magic, but why go to all that effort and expense if you don’t have to? Kitchen Witchery is normally practiced alone or with a dedicated partner, but it is also a great way of introducing kids to magic while also teaching them how to cook and run a household. A Kitchen Witch rarely has need to cast a formal circle because their entire kitchen is usually already consecrated as a dedicated magical space as the natural heart of the home. If they feel the need to cast a circle, it is normally done quietly and simply through visualization and directed will. A favorite wooden spoon becomes a wand, and the same knife used to chop carrots and potatoes functions as an athame. While fixing supper they are imbuing their food with magic and power to the benefit of the entire family.

Kitchen Witchery is healing energy directed into a cup of chamomile tea sweetened with local, raw honey to be given to a family member with a cold. It’s peace and harmony stirred into a crockpot of homemade soup, prosperity and success folded into the dough for snickerdoodles, health and happiness for the coming year mixed into a birthday cake. It’s mixing a little salt and apple cider vinegar into you mop bucket to cleanse your home while you clean it. And it’s keeping a penny hidden above your front door or under the mat to make sure you always have money flowing into your home.

Kitchen Witchery is the magic of everyday life. It may not have the flash and pizazz of ceremonial magic, but for anyone who has been practicing for any length of time they know it to be one of the most prolific and effective magical practices out there. You would be surprised how many Kitchen Witches started out as more formal, ceremonial Witches and, as they grew more comfortable and confident with their magic, gradually shifted from complicated rituals to the simpler, quieter magic of Kitchen Witchery.

Here are a few great books to get you started. If you can’t find them locally, all of them are available on both in paperback and Kindle versions.

“Witch in the Kitchen: Magical Cooking for All Seasons,” by Cait Johnson

“Cottage Witchery: Natural Magick for Hearth and Home,”  & “Garden Witchery: Magick from the Ground Up,” both by Ellen Dugan

“Magick in the Kitchen: A real-world spiritual guide for manifesting the Kitchen Witch within,” by Leandra Witchwood

“The Magical Household: Spells & Rituals for the Home,” & “Cunningham’s Encyclopedia of Wicca in the Kitchen,” both by Scott Cunningham (Come on!  You knew there was gonna be at least one book by Scott. They’re classics!)

“Supermarket Magic: Creating Spells, Brews, Potions & Powders from Everyday Ingredients,” by Michael Furie

Eclipse 2017

Here in Salem, Massachusetts we were well outside the path of totality and the eclipse here only reached about 65% but it was still well worth watching.  My husband is an amature astronomer and even built his own telescope a few years ago.  He has a solar filter for his scope and a camera mount which not only allowed us to watch the eclipse as he happened but get some really cool pictures of it!  I thought I would share some of them:


Greetings & Salutations

I have always hated first posts because I never know what to say by way of introduction. Which is probably why it has taken me so long to actually get around to formally setting up this blog and writing something.  So let’s just jump in and see where this takes me!

The title for this blog, as you may have noticed, is “Musings of a Modern Witch.”  That would seem to be fairly self explanatory.  Yes, I am a modern Witch and have been for almost 30 years.  Yes, I practice magic and follow the old Celtic Gods and I have been a priestess of the Morrigan for over 20 years, long before she became “popular.”  I also honor and work with Cerridwen, Danu, Bridgit, and Herne, the Hunter but I am specifically dedicated and bound to Morrigan.  That said, you won’t find too many posts here specifically about my dealings with my gods.  That’s something very personal and private.

What you will find is posts about how I view and practice magic, discussions about working with crystal, herbs, stones, my cats (I have 4 who mean the world to me), how to incorporate a magical twist to everyday arts and crafts, and other random bits of information that happens to pop into my head that I may feel like talking about.  This is, after all, about the random “musings of a modern Witch!”

One thing I would like to point out is that while I am a Witch, I am not one of the Wiccan variety.  I do not believe in nor adhere to the Wiccan Rede’s concept of “harm none,” nor the idea of the Threefold Law of Return.  Yes, I do believe that we tend to attract what we put out, and that if you constantly act like a jerk out in the world, the world will reflect that back at you.  What I don’t believe is that hexing, cursing, or working baneful magic against an enemy is automatically a bad thing.  I believe in self defense, protecting one’s hearth and home, kith and kin, and using whatever means necessary to do so.

This isn’t to say that I think placing a hex on the idiot who cut you off in traffic is a good idea, but if someone at school is bullying your kid, or someone at work is making your life miserable, you have every right to use magic to make them stop or make them go away.  If a simple binding or bottle spell will get the job done, great!  But sometimes greater magical force is necessary and I will not hesitate to use it, nor will I hesitate to write about it.

So, if I should post about curses or hexes and you get your broom in a twist over it, don’t bother trying to tell me I’m a bad Witch, not a “true Witch,” or that “karma” will get me.  In nearly 30 years I’ve never seen the Universe or the Gods work that way unless it is something a given Witch has incorporated into their belief system.

Okay, now that we have gotten *that* out of the way, welcome to “Musings of a Modern Witch.”  Kick off your shoes, grab a cup of coffee and stay a while!  I hope you enjoy reading my posts as much as I enjoy writing them!

~Kelly NicDruegan