All Tied Up, Part 3: Tie me up, Mr. Buckland!

Most of you reading this post have probably seen this picture in Raymond Buckland’s “Big Blue Book” (not the book’s real title).  This picture is why the book cannot be placed in prison libraries for Wiccan prisoners.  In case you’re seeing this picture out of context, it is showing how to tie an initiate during initiations.

Knots have a long, but sometimes neglected, history in magic.  Good can be tied to you or less than good can be bound up.  Numerology can come into play with the number of loops and twists in a magic knot, as well as color magic for the cord being used.  If the knot magic is being used in bondage, consider corresponding some scents to your intentions.  Simply anoint your rope with a few drops of essential oil(s).  Knot magic is very easy.  As you tie the knot, visualize what ever you want tied to you or what you want bound up and tied up away.  You can also say a power word, charm, or chant as you tie the knots.

Not Your Granny’s Knots

Two Knotty Boys (also known as Dan and JD) have some of the best and easy to follow tutorial videos on the Internet for tying knots ( The videos discussed in this post can be found for free download at The first two videos that I recommend that you check out is the video on how to make your own rope and the video on how to dye your rope.  While it’s not necessary for you to make your own rope, your magic will have more power behind it if you twist your intent into your rope and then tie it in as well.  Likewise, colored rope is readily available for purchase, but your spell will have more power if you are able to meditate while you dye your rope and charge it with your intent.

The next video that you should look at is the rope web video.  The rope web has many magical possibilities.  It can be used most obviously in weaving and spider magic.  It could also be erected in a bedroom as a dream catcher.  The creation of the web could be used as a meditative exercise.  I’m excited to create some spider rituals using this web.  You could be the spider lying in wait or the helpless fly bound up in a rope corselet harness.

The double coin knot can be used in a magic spell using a green rope.  The knot work and remaining rope can be turned into a witch’s ladder or money amulet for the home or business utilizing coins and “money” gemstone beads, such as aventurine or jade.  The prosperity knot can also be done in conjunction with the double coin knot.

The pentagram harness has a multitude of possibilities.  It can be used to ground and center a person for ritual.  It’s a wonderful new twist on the traditional Gardnerian bondage for initiations.  It can also be as a way to bound yourself to a deity for channeling or other practices.  Plus, best of all, it’s just plain witchy!

The last video that I would suggest looking at for knot magic is the rope panties video.  It combines the trinity knot, which can be seen as representative of the feminine or as the triple aspect of deity, and the snake weave, which can be seen as the masculine.  The panties are perfect for sex magic, true heiros gamos, or fertility magic.

Have fun with your knots, and remember that bondage should not cut off circulation or abraid skin.  While natural fiber ropes can be fun, soft nylon or cotton ropes are safest.

These folks are all tied up with knot magic:

Mystic Artisans

House of Oddities Movie Kickstarter Project:

Passion And Soul

Tonia Brown:

The Barbed Pentacle’s Second Birthday Bash:

The Scourge Part 3: Gardner and the scourge’s falls

Gerald Gardner

In case you didn’t know, Gerald Gardner created the religion of Wicca based on other world religions, his travels in the East, Victorian ceremonial magic, the scholarship and pseudo-scholarship of others, and the knowledge of English witches.  I’m sorry to burst your bubble if you think Wicca is an unbroken lineage from ancient times until now.
In the Gardnerian tradition, and in many other traditions, the scourge is number 7 in the list of the Eightfold Path that leads one in the ways of worship and magic.  In his books “Witchcraft Today” and “Meaning of Witchcraft”, Gardner mentions using a scourge in ritual, primarily in initiations as an ordeal and for purification and energy raising. In “The Gardnerian Book of Shadows” he discusses scourging a magical partner to bind a spell and using scourging for maintain coven discipline.  He also goes on in great detail about using number magic and scourging as a way of giving an offering to the Goddess.  According to Gardner, “It is not meet to make offerings [scourgings] of less than two score to the Goddess, for here be a mystery.”  3, 2, 5, 7, 9, and 21 are also acceptable numbers and number multiples to use in a scourging ritual.
Since Gardner created Wicca, why would the use of a scourge be included in ritual?  From what we know, Gardner possessed a vast knowledge of myth, so we can assume that he knew about the Greeks and Romans using the scourge in their various rites.  He would have also known about various Hindu sects using scourging and other methods of pain to cause enlightenment from his time in India (the tradition of sky clad and indeed the term itself was something that Gardner borrowed from the Hindus).  Gardner was also a product of his times.  He was most likely influenced by different Victorian flagellant clubs as well as different scourging rituals that occult societies like Crowley’s OTO practiced.  Gardner also borrowed heavily from, and sometimes outright plagiarized, Charles Leland’s books about Strega and Italian witchcraft.  It is also believed that the Traditional British Coven that Gardner studied with used the scourge as a way to maintain discipline and secrecy, although there are some sources that dispute this.  The most compelling reason why Gardner included scourging as a tradition in Wicca is that people went along with his addition of the practice.  If his original coven had balked at the practice, it would have fallen by the wayside, as we’ll see later.

Alex Sanders and scourging during an initiation
                                      As time went on, Gerald Gardner taught others about Wicca and the “secrets” of the faith.  These other folks went on to start their own covens, and in some cases Pagan traditions.  One such person was Alex Sanders, who started Alexandrian Wicca.  Although he eventually broke from Gardner and claimed to come from a family tradition, a good many of his practices mirror Gardnerian Wicca, including the use of the scourge in initiations and other rituals and magic.  Raymond Buckland, another student of Gardner’s, discusses initiatory bondage (another Gardnerian practice), sensory deprivation, and scourging in his “Buckland’s Complete Book of Witchcraft.”  Doreen Valiente and Janet and Stewart Farrar all discuss the ritual use of scourging in their writings.  Of course, Valiente had direct dealings with Gardner and the Farrars were students of Alex Sanders.
So when did the scourge fall out of favor?  The easy answer is “when folks started to object”.  More seriously, however, I suspect it started to happen when Wicca came to America.  Americans have always been into eclectic modes of worship, and the practice of Wicca by Americans has been no different.  The further Wicca got away from the strict rules of Gardnerian Wicca and its offshoots, the less you see “unpleasant” things like scourges and secrecy.  If you look at the books published by American authors, most of them don’t mention the use of the scourge, even in initiations.  In fact, in most “beginner” books, you’re lucky if the scourge is even mentioned as a ritual tool.  Gavin and Yvonne Frost, well known for their views on sex magic, don’t even mention the scourge in their writings.
Another reason why scourging is no longer widely practiced in Wicca is Starhawk and the feminist/Dianic Pagan movement.  If you’re advocating for women’s rights and women’s mysteries, chances are you are not going to take the time to reconcile a religious practice that could be perceived by the outside world as physical abuse and patriarchy with your political views.   From the 1970′s onward there is a marked decline in the use and mention of the scourge.  Many groups today either don’t own a scourge, or have one that is only used as a witch prop.
Part 4 will be a survey of current groups and their use of the scourge.