Ecstasy and the Craft

A memory of a ritual long ago:

The full moon shines brightly in the clear sky overhead, illumining the meadow below. We gather under a large structure, little more than a roof under which a large fire pit has been lit. The drummers begin their task, a slow heartbeat to begin as everyone breathes into the moment, becoming present and embodied.

Together we call to the powers of the natural world: to the air, fire, water, and earth as the drummers increase their beat. Bodies sway to the beat of the drums as invocations are spoken and sung. They are snippets, really, passed down from coven to coven to preserve a current of poetic gnosis, a frequency of awareness that allows these spiritual intelligences a place to manifest, like a seed of consciousness taking root in the minds of those present and sprouting into the full bloom of sentience.

The quickening drums inspire dancing. I can feel these spirits in my body and my mind. I hear them calling to me. I feel their pull in my heart, a desire to open more fully and let them in. It is alluring and seductive, and intoxicating, and was I not tasked with maintaining a ritual focus, it would be a simple thing to fly off into the astral and allow these beings to guide me through the underworld.

Even still, images, sensations, and sudden knowledge fill me. All of us are touched by a consciousness different than our own and one not confined to the brain or to the mind. This is the knowledge of bones and of flesh, the certainty of a beating heart, and the fragility of it all as well. 

The drums hasten their beat into a frenzy as our dancing becomes excited, and the heavens — as if on cue — begin to usher forth a swift wind, bright lightning, and heavy rain. The sudden thunderclaps seem to underscore the collectively felt urgency of our rite, to call these ancient elemental powers and anchor them into our awareness. These spiritual powers are now given space within ourselves to re-awaken our sense of connection with the natural world, to allow us to live our lives more fully, to feel more deeply, and to move beyond the comfortable and into the evolutionary. We dance and sing, the sound of the drums and rain and voices merging into a divine cacophony, raising the power, and opening our spirits.

Our dancing and singing then begin to slow, and the wailing gives way to the sound of rain on the roof and the booming thunder. We stand open, drenched with rain and mud, standing before the central fire. We speak the names of the spirits that our tradition holds and pledge to give them the respect they deserve in the world and within ourselves.

Enlightenment [Assets from Deposit Photos, altered by S. Faerywolf]

The core of Witchcraft has always been carnal in nature. It is rooted in the wisdom of both the land and the body, recognizing the physical world as the holy temple through which we worship the omnipresent divine, the indwelling consciousness within all things and places. It is this consciousness which we often deify, calling it Goddess or God or some other equally nebulous title meant to inspire a sense of awe, reverence, and mystery.

Witchcraft is not passed as ordinary knowledge. It is not a simple matter of reading the right books, taking the right classes, or learning the right lore, though all of these can certainly be helpful guides along the way. It is a matter of living in a way that aligns one with the presence of magic in the world. It is loosening the death grip of the ego to allow other modes of consciousness to share in the limelight of full embodiment.

Passion is a central key to true Witchcraft, a gateway into the ecstatic in which we can break out of the mundane and enter the realm of poets and dreamers, seeing the world as an infinite web of interconnections to be explored rather than as finite resources to be squandered.

Many of us have had our passions used against us, making it difficult to allow ourselves the freedom of fully surrendering to them. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes. But it is worth our efforts to face the discomfort that comes from confronting those fears and feelings, for as we do, we perform the great transformation of fear into power.

This is the Great Work of knowing ourselves. Of identifying our complexes and inner demons and working to change them from burdens to allies. One of the most potent tools we have in our magical toolkit is the ability to step into the ecstatic, to shift our consciousness, and commune with the invisible world. To the outsider, these tools and techniques seem strange or even ridiculous. But to the practitioner who understands the language of symbols and sensation, they are potent keys granting deep access to a pool of collective wisdom. Drumming, meditation, dancing, chanting, singing, herbs, and drink, and sex, and wine… all these and more, offering us a way to shut off the mind of judgment and logic and allow us to exist primarily from our carnal, primal natures. Our finite, earthly, animal bodies, in alignment with our infinite celestial spirits, we become greater than just the sum of our parts and begin to step more fully into our own godhood.

This is true Witchcraft. Not a religion to separate us from the physical world, but a practice to remind us how holy it has always been.

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