Double, double, toil and trouble
Fire burn and cauldron bubble.-
William Shakespeare, MacBeth
Why do witches rhyme their spells and incantations? And why do they use ingredients like bat’s wings and eye of newt? It all sounds really cool, and gross, but there are very practical reasons.
I wrote a post recently on the power of your words. Your words, spoken with intention and emotion, are very powerful on their own. Now add rhyme and rhythm and that power just escalated.
When casting a spell, the incantations are often repeated three, five, seven times. When repeating an incantation in rhyme, certain syllables are stressed leading to a rhythm or beat that induces focus and an altered state of mind. This method has been used by various cultures and practices since the early times from the ancient Celts to the Native American Indians.
Crafting a spell’s incantation in rhyming verse takes some extra effort, and will infuse the spell with a greater level of your personal power. The more thought and effort you put into it, the stronger it will become.
Rhyming also makes a chant easier to remember. I have several shortened versions of chants that I repeat on various occasions for different reasons. Here is an example of one incantation I wrote when I was unhappy at having a large sum of money taken from me unjustly. I feel the need to add that this was not written or spoken out of anger or with ill-intent. Remember, what you put out will come back to you.
Take from me and you shall see
The value shall be returned to me
In my pocket I shall hold
The value of riches ne’er told
What you have taken shall be lost
Three times three the greater cost
Returned to me so mote it be
three times three times three times three
Anyway, over the years, this has been shortened in my mind to simply ‘three times three’, or maybe ‘three times three so mote it be’. When I’m feeling ripped off in some way, I’ll repeat this a few times and I don’t dwell on it or allow it to upset me. I simply release it for the universe and karma to handle.
Do your chants have to rhyme? Nope. If you despise composing verse, it’s no big deal, so don’t throw away your athame and BOS just yet. An incantation can be perfectly effective when it doesn’t rhyme. Rhyming verse, however, is not so difficult and if you’re feeling overwhelmingly challenged by it, I would suggest grabbing a pen and paper and giving it a go in fun. You never know what you’ll come up with and you might discover you’re actually really good at it. Remember, also, these are your personal spells and you don’t have to share them with anyone.
So what about all those weird ingredients witches toss into their cauldrons? Does blood of goose mean you have to go out and kill a goose in the dead of night? All of the strange ingredients in old spells refer to the various herbs that were used. I’ve read of several reasons for these names. One is that most people back then were illiterate and not familiar with the Latin names of the herbs, so they called them by names of common things that looked similar such as lamb’s ear. It also made it easier for teaching the next generation. Another theory is the recipes were kept secret to keep common folk from poisoning themselves with herbs like belladonna. Regardless, in witchcraft, it is never necessary to pop out a newts eyes or clip off a bat’s wings. All you really need is mustard seed and holly leaf. Here are a couple of ancient herbal name reference lists for you at The Village Witch and Witches of the Craft. And for those of you looking forward to your first chicken sacrifice, I am sorry to disappoint.
Wishing you a magic filled day,