Wicca: My Gateway Drug to MagickPublished October 11, 2019
An Account of Elemental Training with Water
My gateway drug for magick was Wicca. By the age of 17, I had declared myself an atheist. But a year later, I met a magician (a working illusionist), who also practiced Wicca. I was fascinated by his magic and Pagan practices. What most excited me was the prospect of female divinity and a religion that acknowledged sex and the power of our animal natures. I wanted to learn from Robert…but rather than take me under his wing immediately, he gave me a list of books to read. He told me to come back if I finished them.
It took me one year to read his books.* During that time, I moved to Southern California, got addicted to drugs, moved back to my hometown, and got married. Then six months later, I got divorced, moved out on my own, finished reading the books, and showed up on Robert’s doorstep.
“I read your books,” I told him, “and I want to learn.”
This was the beginning.
I stayed at Robert’s house for about 6 months. Two other teenage students were living there too. We were all studying basic Celtic Wicca under Robert. We celebrated each moon and drew them down, as Margot Adler had instructed. We practiced various esoteric meditations and arts. We listened attentively to Robert. We also became his assistants on stage when he performed illusions in our small-time casino town. Ultimately, I could not stay at Robert’s. He was too busy trying to have sex with us…all of us, for me to pursue legitimate spiritual interests. One of the other girls became my friend and lover, so we moved out to start our own coven. To clarify, Robert never attacked us. I’m not accusing him of that – it was just an uncomfortable persistence.
Further, Robert did teach me a lot of foundational nature-based earth magic. His theory of magic practice was informed and coherent. He was a studied man, and I’m grateful for this early training.
When it came to elementals, Robert believed in experiential learning. The day he instructed me on the element of water, he woke me up with a splash of water in the face. He hid ice cubes in my shoes, and we all took long baths in silence and candlelight. I drank only water, walked to a nearby pond, and put my hands in it. We considered how much of our own bodies are made of water. We talked of the moon, the tides, and the blood of women – the life-giving womb waters. At the end of the day, I spent time with my chosen water vessel on my altar. I blessed it and filled it, invoking the spirits of water with my mind and heart. Robert instructed us all to build a relationship with the elements. That day I began to write my “water song.”
This process was repeated with each element over some weeks. I continued to investigate my relationship to the elements for many decades after. One of the perceived benefits of practicing a religion is feeling more connected to the world, to nature, to all of life. Elemental meditations can help forge that connection.
Practical applications for elemental magic aren’t that common; however, one time, I did make use of a relationship with the element of water. It was summer, and I was lying on the beach of Lake Washington in Seattle, tanning myself on a hot day. I reached over for my can of soda and took a sip. Right away, I felt something moving in my mouth. I spat it out and saw the wasp, and smashed it with a shoe. One second later, I became unbelievably ill. I tried to stand, but crumpled and went into shock. The lifeguard called an ambulance and sat with me, waiting for it to arrive. My whole mouth and head were humming with pain and poison. I thought that I would die. I could not move, only lay on the ground and feel the poison coursing through my blood. My gaze sought the shoreline. I blanked in and out of consciousness, struggling to breathe and stay awake. Terrified of dying, in shock and pain, I tried to keep my fix on the water. Mentally, I connected with the spirit of water and asked it to help me – to cleanse my blood, and help me clear out the poison. I imagined waves of clean blue water washing over me. To maintain consciousness, I tried to stay focused on the water, its proximity, its sounds, its smell, its connection to me. I seemed to find a rhythm. Despite all the pain and lethargy, it was soothing – like a hand to hold throughout the ordeal.
Eventually, the ambulance came, and they gave me a shot. I started feeling better, pretty fast. I’d been stung three times, twice in the roof of the mouth, and once between my bottom lip and front teeth. I’d acquired a high amount of wasp venom, close to my brain, in a very short threshold of time. This circumstance is why I had a severe reaction. The paramedic warned me that venom from bees and wasps is cumulative and that because I’d taken so much at once, most likely, I would be allergic for the rest of my life.
My connection to water kept me calm until help arrived, and that benefit could have come from another meditation technique. I just happened to make use of my water song. Many kinds of practice and discipline are beneficial. The specific icons or aesthetics matter less than the intention which motivates the act.
*Robert’s List of Prerequisite Reading:
Drawing Down The Moon – Margot Adler
A Book of Pagan Rituals – pub. Samuel Wieser 1978
The Spiral Dance – Starhawk
Mastering Witchcraft: A Practical Guide for Witches, Warlocks & Covens – Paul Huson
Magical Rites from the Crysta Well – Ed Fitch
Dancing Wu Li Masters – Gary Zukav
The Mists of Avalon – Marion Zimmer Bradley
The Meaning of Witchcraft – Gerald Gardner (Admittedly, I skimmed this last one. Gardener is so dry.)