An accessible in-depth guide to Celtic water lore, including spells, rituals, water spirits, and merfolk
Let Annwyn Avalon, a practicing water witch herself, take you into the world of water magic. The water magic and lore in this book focuses on the Celtic tradition, but draws on other water magic traditions as well, and features rainwater, as well as lakes, rivers, oceans, canals, swamps, and other watery locations, together with the folk and magical customs that have been and are still practiced at these places. The book teaches the reader how to set up a water altar at home, how to connect with water spirits, and how to gather or create water witch tools. Readers are encouraged to visit local water sites but will also find an abundance of material to perform at home. Included are practical examples, visualizations, and exercises so any reader can start to take up spell work and establish their spiritual connection to water.
|Product dimensions:||5.20(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.80(d)|
About the Author
Annwyn Avalon is a witch, priestess, and the founder of Triskele Rose, an Avalonian witchcraft tradition. She has devoted her life to the study of art, witchcraft, and magic. She has a BFA in sculpture and a BA in anthropology and has completed her Reiki Master teacher training and studied herbalism and Middle Eastern folk and esoteric dancing. Annwyn writes the Patheos.com blog, The Water Witch, and is an award-winning, internationally known dancer with a repertoire of water and mermaid themed belly dance performances. Visit her at www.waterwitchcraft.com.
Skye is the author of more than 30 fiction and nonfiction books. Her stories have been published in numerous anthologies, and her work has been translated into a dozen languages. She is also an artist, writing teacher, feng shui practitioner, astrologer, and tarot reader. She divides her time between Texas and Massachusetts.
Read an Excerpt
The Magic of Water
Two of the most famous magicians in the world — Aleister Crowley and Dion Fortune — have described magic as change in accordance with will. In water magic, we exert our will and intent through our physical and energetic bodies to perform rituals and spells that can change the properties of water. This is why water magic can be so powerful. Moreover, if we accept that words and intent influence the structure of water molecules, and we define magic as change according to will, and we consider will and intent to be virtually synonymous, we can state a clear and simple formula for water magic:
Intent + water + delivery method = magical change
In a way, we can even see the magic take place!
When we look at water magic as a practice, working with either small quantities (rain, ponds, or wells) or large quantities (rivers, lakes, or oceans), this formula makes it very clear that chanting, spells, circumambulation, incantations, sigils, and many other magical tools can be incorporated into it with incredibly powerful results. This is evident from the ancient beliefs of the Celts and Romans, right up to the modern science of Dr. Emoto. With some practice, we can work the perfect combination to influence and direct specific change.
Almost every sea or water witch I have met is a bit of a magpie who collects shells, wood, glass, and other items from the water to create shrines or altars. I find that water witches are attracted to bottles, bowls, and other vessels. We are often found beach-combing or searching the banks of rivers and lakes. Water witches are often good at water scrying and divination with shells or bones found along the shoreline. Many love to swim, boat, or surf, and we are often found covered in flower petals and salts floating in the bath.
The astrological charts of witches with a strong penchant for water witchcraft often indicate this — not only their sun signs, but also their ascendants and moons, may be in the water signs of Cancer, Scorpio, and Pisces. Many are drawn to some sort of mythological water spirits or creatures like mermaids, selkies, and Lake Ladies.
Outside, water witches work with sea water, brackish waters, lakes, rivers, swamps, snow, hail, rain, ponds, canals, seasonal creeks, sacred wells, and other places where water resides. Inside, they work with teas, sacred baths, healing waters, hydrosols, distilled waters, and water-based sprays. The following chapters go into these techniques in more detail and give examples and exercises for you to practice. Really, there is no limit to water magic!
WATER BY ANY OTHER NAME
Water exists in three states: liquid, solid, and gas. Water magic works with all three and all three, for our purposes, are considered to be water. In my practice, I use the Celtic triskele, or three-armed spiral, each arm of which represents one of the three states of water (see Figure 1). In this book, we will work primarily with water in its liquid state, but here are a few fun ways to work with water in its other two states:
Freeze water to stop an enemy, or to freeze something in place through the act of binding. Binding is the magical act of stopping or containing energy or intent. Frozen water in the form of ice or snow is often used in binding rites to prevent an action or to keep someone from performing an action you want to stop.
Defrost water to get stuck energy flowing again, to thaw a frozen heart, or in spells involving new beginnings. Through sympathetic magic, the act of thawing brings the perfect energy to spell work that unbinds, gets things moving forward, or gets something started. It holds energy similar to that of the Chariot card in tarot. Place a taglock — an item that represents a person like a photo, hair, nail clippings, something indicating their date of birth, or even clothing items — for the targeted person or action in a bowl of snow or ice and allow it to melt while chanting or charging the item. Once it is melted, you can empty the melted snow or ice into running water to speed up the spell.
Etch protection sigils or other magical symbols and brief incantations on frosted or frozen windows. Make snow poppets to use in healing and cursing; use freshly fallen snow to make wonderful wintry cleansing water.
Draw beauty symbols or sigils of cleansing on the bathroom mirror using the steam from a shower. Use fog and mist in visualizations or in the physical world to access the Otherworld or to clear the mind of fog.
The energy of rain and storms is particularly powerful. Witches, and especially sea witches, have long been associated with storm energy and with controlling the weather. There is nothing like sitting on the banks of a large body of water watching a terrible and powerful storm roll in. Many water witches enjoy this type of weather, and we pull energy from it, sending out spells and letting the roaring winds and waters weave the magic. I collect water everywhere I go, including water from storms. I label and date the containers, including information on the type of storm, its location, and how I plan to use the water. Summer sun showers possess beautiful warm energy, and sun shower water can encourage growth, health, and creativity. On the other hand, hail and lightning storms pack a very powerful punch that can be useful in magical workings that need an extra push. Storm water can also be used to curse and is useful for protection.
All types of water were used to predict fortune, cast spells, break enchantments, and heal. Meeting a woman with a full water jug was believed to bring good fortune, while meeting one with an empty jug foretold troubles ahead. In some areas, taking an article of clothing from a witch who had cast against you, tying it to a rock, and throwing it in a lake before moonrise protected you from the witch's magic. In other areas, just throwing a cursed object into a lake at midnight was enough to break the enchantment. In Orkney, water used to wash a sick person was thrown out a door or gateway to transfer the sickness to the first person who came through it. Here are some other types of water that have magical properties, along with some of their uses:
Black water: a modern invention that is sold in many stores. It is infused with trace "fulvic" minerals that turn it black and make it very alkaline. It can be used during the dark half of the year's Sabbats and for shadow meditations, shadow work, shadow magic, or anything else that is nocturnal. Some wells produce water that is black or turns items touched by it black, but this water is not safe to ingest, while black water purchased from a store is. St. Joseph's Well, located in the crypt of the Lady Chapel of Glastonbury Abbey, is widely considered to have black water. A few others are mentioned in later chapters.
Brackish water: occurs where fresh-water rivers meet salt water. This mix of fresh and salt water can be substituted for fresh or salt water, and carries its own calming but darker energy. The shorelines are liminal places full of healing and death, balance and bane, with yarrow growing among the poison hemlock. Use this water in magic to merge with or to enter the "betwixt and between."
Dew: collected at dawn on May 1st (Beltane), it brings power to beauty rituals and spells.
Fog and mist: useful especially to access the Otherworld. Mist can be used as a portal, especially during the liminal hours of dusk and dawn. Meditating, walking, or sitting in a light trance state while a fog or mist rolls in creates an environment that calms the mind and allows you to connect with or even enter the Otherworld.
Hail or sleet: collected during or after a storm, it comes from the sky in a furious frozen state. Keep it frozen or melt it and store it in a bottle. It is generally used for cursing and can make a great base for War Water, an aggressive formula containing water and rust that is used for physical and psychic protection, spiritual cleansing, and to place or reverse a curse.
Marsh, bog, swamp, and canal water: dark dirty water that is imbued with decaying plant matter and has become stagnant. These waters can be used for darker magic, ancestral work, and to hide, cover, or mask. Swamp water is full of mystery and poison. Toads, snakes, and spiders lurk within the grooves of hollowed trees and mingle with the reeds peeking above the surface of these waters. Swamp waters can be found all over the world, and can be used for any type of magic.
Mud: water and earth mixed together. It is mysterious and messy. You can use it as an earth element and to bury old worn-out cycles, or for grounding.
Sea water: has unlimited uses. It can be used for work with spirits and water deities; with a prayer or blessing, it can be used as holy water, as it is already salty. It has many useful healing properties and can be used for healing, protection, charming, and cleansing. It is also useful in banishing rituals.
Fountains and pools: Water pumped through homes, heaters, and fountains is sometimes chlorinated. When I first started to encounter water spirits, I looked to the old and traditional ways. As my practice expanded, however, I found that these waters also had both personality and spirit and could be used in my personal work. If you live near or around these types of manmade waters, you can still develop a relationship with them and use them for specific and personal purposes.
Pond and lake water: typically calm and serene and often resembles a mirror. Use lake water to discover mysteries. Lakes are considered portals and many creatures dwell in and under them. These waters are good for relaxation or revitalizing spells. If you are in an argument with someone, use lake water to "calm" the situation. Because of its still surface, lake and pond water is also useful in scrying — divining or foretelling the future by gazing. Lakes are like mirrors, and so support self-reflection. They can also be used in watery mirror work and vision journeys as a portal to the watery realms.
Rain water: ideal medium for water magic. I work with three major types of rain: water from sun showers, "dreary water," and water from thunderstorms. Sun-shower water can be used for healing, nourishment, and solar magic. It is a great base for Florida Water — a perfumed water made with various herbs and flowers. What I call "dreary water" occurs when a light rainfall continues for days, typically accompanied by gray skies and cool temperatures. Collected over several days, this water is great for shadow work, resting, rejuvenation, invisibility, and protection. Thunderstorm water is fierce. It can be used in aggressive magic, cursing, and in any spell that needs a really big power-packed punch! It's particularly effective if you can safely collect and work with water from a large storm like a hurricane, but always remember to make safety your priority.
River water: fast-moving water that can be used in conjunction with or in place of the Chariot card in the tarot to speed things up. If you need something to move along quickly, find a river and work with its water. It is also useful for aggressively cleansing your energetic body of impurities and negativities. Sit in a river with the directional flow hitting your back to enhance a purging or cleansing visualization. (I often use the phrase "Send it down the river!") Launch little boats made of twigs and leaves and send them down the river with the intent of getting rid of something or someone. Rivers, canals, and streams can be used for spells involving moving forward, change, getting unstuck, and sending things away. The Celts believed that evil spirits could not cross running water, so rivers are also useful for escaping an astral enemy. Remember, however, that bodies of water that flow freely will have energy different from that of stagnant canal systems.
Snow or ice: can be kept frozen or placed in a jar or bottle and allowed to melt. It is great for winter water magic. Like all ice magic, it can "freeze" your enemies in place. Likewise, the act of defrosting will help you get "unstuck" and move to a more flexible place. It can also be used to defrost an enemy's icy heart. Draw sigils in snow for temporary binding or to help unbind.
Spring and well water: fresh waters that literally "spring" up from below the ground. These waters are usually crystal clear and are often associated with mystery, mythology, and folklore. They can be used in healing magic and to connect with water fae. They were also used to remove curses and enchantments, and to place curses — often for a fee.
Waterfalls: some of the most beautiful waters. Some flow all year, while others are seasonal. This water is useful in cleansing and purification, and in rites of birth and beauty.
This list shows how water, as an element, can be worked with in all its various physical stages and states. But it can also be worked with as an entity — as a spirit or otherworldly being. An example of this can be found in the old Irish tale of the Horned Woman, which was first recorded in the late 19th century, although its origins are believed to be much older. This tale tells of a woman who is tricked into letting twelve horned witches into her home. The first witch to appear has one horn; the second has two; and the pattern continues up to the twelfth witch, who, of course, has twelve. The witches begin to put enchantments on the woman, her home, and her family.
When the woman becomes distraught by her lack of power over the enchantments in her own home, she goes to the well, which speaks to her, helpfully revealing its knowledge of magic and counter-cursing. When the horned witches direct the woman to collect water from the well using a sieve, the well tells her how to patch the sieve and then teaches her how to defeat the witches' enchantments. The story is important, because it portrays the well as an entity and makes it clear that the water (or the spirit within it) is speaking directly to the woman. Many modern water witches tell me that they speak to water or that water has spoken to them.
WATER ALTARS AND SHRINES
No matter what their chosen path, most witches pursue their magic in a sacred working space like an altar or a shrine. An altar is a sacred surface on which to create and work magic, as well as a place to commune with the spirit(s) it is dedicated to. Altars can also provide a setting for divination. Shrines are structures erected in honor of a divine spirit that serve as a focus of devotion, prayer, energy, and meditation. Shrines are gifts to the spirits they honor. They may be simple, or adorned with beautiful offerings and objects of significance. Shrines tend to be permanent; altars can be built and taken down as needed.
Creating a water altar or a water shrine is a magical act in itself, an act of devotion that establishes a sacred space in which you can honor or work with water and its spirits. A great deal of magic, energy, and intent goes into creating shrines and altars. In fact, the act is akin to a form of moving meditation and I am always very grounded after I create one. Be sure to keep your altars and shrines clean. Freshen up the offerings they hold and rearrange them periodically so that their energy does not become stagnant. There really are no rules for creating shrines and altars, but here is a general overview of how to set them up and how to use them.
Exercise: Creating a Water Altar
Begin by selecting a space that is safe and that will go untouched by tiny hands or curious guests. If at all possible, set up your altar facing west, as that is the direction traditionally believed to align with the water element. If this isn't possible, orient your altar toward the closest body of water or the one that you work with regularly, so that you consistently align yourself with it.
Once your table or other surface is set up, cleanse and consecrate the space in the spirit of water and dedicate it to any water deity or spirit with whom you currently work or wish to work. If there is no particular spirit you want to honor, or your practice tends toward the agnostic or atheistic, consider dedicating the altar to a particular body of water or perhaps just to water in general. If you are not currently working with a particular spirit, but you would like to connect with one, create the altar as directed, but leave the dedication open until your spirit's identity has been discovered or established.
Next, cleanse the altar space, both physically and spiritually. Of course, you can use any method you like. But to get you started, I have included some very basic ways to create holy water below. Choose one and work with it in this exercise.
Gather your holy water and consecrate your sacred space by sprinkling the altar with it, saying:
With my breath, With my heart, And with my will, I consecrate this space.(Continues…)
Excerpted from "Water Witchcraft"
Copyright © 2019 Annwyn Avalon.
Excerpted by permission of Red Wheel/Weiser, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
Chapter 1: The Magic of Water,
Chapter 2: River Witches,
Chapter 3: Sacred Well Witches,
Chapter 4: Lake Witches,
Chapter 5: Marsh Witches,
Chapter 6: Sea Witches,
Chapter 7: Local Water Spirits,
Chapter 8: Mermaids and Finfolk,
Chapter 9: Water Witchery,
Index of Magical Exercises,