The Play’s The Thing – Shakespearean Witchcraft

Having issues writing an incantation? Need something to spice up your next spell? Why not try a little Shakespeare?

The Bard’s weighty folio includes numerous references to witches, magic, sorcery, and all kinds of otherworldly goings-on in his plays. We’re all familiar with the good old “Double, double, toil and trouble” scene from Macbeth (Act 4, Scene 1), but there’s much more inspiration to be had.

Lady Macbeth’s Revenge Soliloquy, Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 5

“Come, you spirits that tend on mortal thoughts…”

The Witches Curse A Sailor, Macbeth, Act 1, Scene 3

“And like a rat without a tail, I’ll do, I’ll do, and I’ll do…”

Prospero’s Threat of Confinement, The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2

“If thou more murmur’st, I will rend an oak
And peg thee in his knotty entrails till
Thou hast howl’d away twelve winters.”

The Exchange Between Caliban and Prospero, The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2

“As wicked dew as e’er my mother brush’d
With raven’s feather from unwholesome fen…”

Prospero’s Threat of Disarming, The Tempest, Act 1, Scene 2

“Put thy sword up, traitor…”

Iris Appeals to the Goddess Ceres, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

“Ceres, most bounteous lady, thy rich leas
Of wheat, rye, barley, vetches, oats and pease…”

Ceres Gives A Blessing of Abundance, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

“Earth’s increase, foison plenty,
Barns and garners never empty…”

Prospero Ends The Revels, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

“Our revels now are ended…”

Prospero Speaks of Caliban, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

“A devil, a born devil…”

Prospero Sets Spirit Hounds On Caliban’s Band, The Tempest, Act 4, Scene 1

“Go charge, my goblins…”

Prospero Summons Nature Spirits, The Tempest, Act 5, Scene 1

“Ye elves of hills, brooks, standing lakes and groves…”

Oberon Explains The Love-Herb, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 2, Scene 1

“That very time I saw (but thou couldst not)
Flying between the cold moon and the earth,
Cupid, all arm’d; a certain aim he took…”

[The love-herb, incidentally, is a pansy blossom.]

Puck Heralds The Dawn, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2

“For night’s swift dragons cut the clouds full fast,
And yonder shines Aurora’s harbinger…”

Helena Prays For Comfort, A Midsummer Night’s Dream, Act 3, Scene 2

“O weary night, O long and tedious night…”

This is FAR from a complete listing; in fact, I’ve only gone through the three plays best known for their association with magic and witchcraft. There are lots more to go through, and even the serious plays have plenty of arguments and insults that would make great fodder for witchery.

Have a go at your own favorite Shakespearean title, and see what you come up with!

Witchy Tips: Cauldron Kindling

If you would like to / are able to use open flame in your craft, here’s a helpful hint.

Get yourself a small iron cauldron for burning loose herbs and incenses. A 3″-4″ deep specimen with legs is ideal, and they retail for between $30 and $50, depending on how intricate you want the designs and where you’re shopping Most will include a handle, and some larger models will have a lid.

Here are the two cauldrons that I own.

If you’re short on charcoal discs for your incense, save the wooden leftovers from your incense sticks.

To use them, first ready your dry herbs or loose incense blend. Place half a dozen or so in the bottom of your cauldron and light them with a taper, long match, long-nosed lighter, or another leftover stick. Quickly and carefully pile the herbs or incense on top. The wooden sticks should burn out quickly, leaving the contents of the cauldron to smoulder.

Fair Warning – This produces a LOT of smoke, so make sure the area you’re working in is well-ventilated.

Safety First – Always make sure your cauldron is away from flammable objects and don’t ever leave a cauldron without extinguishing ALL the embers. (The lidded models are especially useful for this.) Keep a cup of water handy in case of accidents.

“The Legend of Sleepy Hollow”

For everyone else who’s currently in an autumnal mood, here’s a recording of “The Legend of Sleepy Hollow” by Washington Irving, as read by Bob Neufeld for Librivox.org. This recording is public domain and FREE for anyone to download.

If you haven’t discovered Librivox yet, it’s a wonderful site dedicated to producing quality audiobooks of public domain texts. It is volunteer-run, many recordings are available in multiple languages, and everything on Librivox is FREE. From classic novels to short stories, you’re certain to find something you love on Librivox!

Lughnasadh – August 1, 2016

This year, I’m making a concerted effort to actually do something special for each of my patron’s designated holidays. (Some of the designations are slightly arbitrary and based on my own interpretation, but Lughnasadh is pretty straightforward.)

For my Lughnasadh celebration, I cleaned and cleansed the altar with rosewater, and changed the garland to reflect sunny summer flowers. The cleaning and the changing happen for most sabbats, when I can find the time.

Lugh Samildanach (”many-skilled”) is one of my patron deities, and he presides over feats of skill, craftsmanship, friendly competition, battle prowess, and the first harvests of grain and fruit. Accordingly, I made my offering of song, fire, fresh fruit, plum wine, and orange-amber perfume oil.

Dinner tonight will be blackened catfish with macaroni and cheese, plus veggie and fruit salads.

Happy Lughnasadh, everyone!