Your browser does not support script
TWV Presents...



Articles/Essays From Pagans

[Show all]


Views: 16,488,090


April 20th. 2014 ...

Safety: Let's Shift Our Focus

Six Rules for Safer Pagan Sex: A Guide

A Pagan Perspective on Easter

Morality and Controversy in the Craft

The Oak King's Domain (A Story)

The Star Child


April 13th. 2014 ...

Magick and Consequences: My Experience with Sigils

Don't Talk Yourself Out of Trying Something New!

Being a Worrisome Witch

What to Do When the Spell/Ritual Flops


April 6th. 2014 ...

The Elements and the Quarters

Dark Moon Scry: Aries 2014

How the Wheel of the Year Works “Down Under”

13 Keys: The Understanding of Binah


March 30th. 2014 ...

Manifesting the Dream: On Religious Organizations, Pagan Abbeys and our Order

True Meaning of Community

Thoughts on Unverified Personal Gnosis

My Beautiful Grove- A Matter Of Perspective


March 23rd. 2014 ...

Spirituality and Social Change

The First Step to Anywhere!


March 16th. 2014 ...

From Christian to Pagan (Part I)

Nature And The Celtic Tree Calendar

The Teeth in the Darkness


March 9th. 2014 ...

Healing the Witch Within

Incarcerated Witches

Discovering Wicca as a Young Child

March Pisces Energy: Pre-natal Memories and Standing Upright


March 2nd. 2014 ...

Lessons of Ostara: Six Ways to Move Forward

The Wiccan Priest - The Misunderstood Role

Which is Which? Am I a Warlock or a Witch?

The Secret Teaching: Selected Aspects


February 23rd. 2014 ...

Wicca or Traditional Witchcraft: Some Differences

Everything is Not Under Your Control: Making Sense of the Senseless

The Wonders and Gifts of Paganism and Community

What Makes Us What We Are


February 16th. 2014 ...

The Stones of Fear: Anxiety Relief

Death, Grief, and Psychopomp Work in Shamanic Healing

Spiritual Traveler: Form To Essence

Alternative Medicine – What Is It?


February 9th. 2014 ...

Words of Power!

The Allure of Glamour in the Apocolypse

Lunar Insight Planetary Preponderances: Year of the Horse, Imbolc and Mercury Grazings


February 2nd. 2014 ...

The Magick of Jewelry and Metals

Building a Magick Mirror

The Golden Bough: a Study Guide (Part 2)


January 26th. 2014 ...

Love of Self: The Hardest Thing To Do

The Golden Bough as a Seminal Work in the Neo Pagan Movement (Part 1)

13 Keys: The Mercy of Chesed

Lightworking In The Screen Age: Staying Connected


January 19th. 2014 ...

Open Letter to the Goddess

A Southern Girl's Guide to Hospitality

Social Conventions and the Pagan World

Reclaiming Independence


January 12th. 2014 ...

Never Once Was There a An Athame Near My Chalice: My Very Sheltered Occultist Upbringing

One Wiccan's Journey Through Depression


January 5th. 2014 ...

Religion vs Practice: Defining Witchcraft in a Modern Age

Traditional Apprenticeships: Training in the Modern Pagan Abbey

2014's Magickal Magnificent Manifestations!

Lunar Insight Moon Musings, Planetary Preponderances: Wise and Wild


December 29th. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 3)

13 Keys: The Might of Geburah

Beyond The Season of Greed


December 22nd. 2013 ...

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 2)


December 15th. 2013 ...

The Hex Murder of 1928

My Top Ten Favorite Cauldrons (Part 1)

Lady of the Forest Mist (A Story of the Woods)

Lunar Insight Moon Musings: Hunting, Fires and Parting Shots


December 8th. 2013 ...

Help and Thoughts for Pagans New to the Journey

Using Your Wand in Reverse

The Cry of the Soul

Leaving a Group - Part 2: Leaving, Healing and Moving Forward


December 1st. 2013 ...

The Tarot as a Tool for Raising Consciousness

A Pragmatic Look at Neo Paganism

Leaving a Pagan Group – Part 1: To Leave or to Stay?


November 24th. 2013 ...

The Groovy Aquarian Christ: Jesus From a Pagan Perspective

The Pagan and the Papacy


November 17th. 2013 ...

Which Witch? Philosophical and Psychological Roots of Wicca

For Love of the God

A Threat to Religious Liberties?


November 10th. 2013 ...

Where did Aleister Crowley’s Influence on Wicca Go?


NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.










Article Specs

Article ID: 13235

VoxAcct: 335670

Section: words

Age Group: Adult

Days Up: 1,828

Times Read: 2,483

RSS Views: 68,252
A Witch’s Charm Twice Told

Author: Zan Fraser
Posted: April 19th. 2009
Times Viewed: 2,483

Those who seek clues as to the nature of English witchcraft prior to Gerald Gardner turn their attentions sooner or later to William Shakespeare’s tragedy of Macbeth. “Witch Plays” appear to have been highly popular with Elizabethan/ Jacobean theater-goers; virtually every significant play-writer from the 1580s to the early 1600s contributes a “witchcraft work” and Macbeth’s fame is such that nine people out of ten will cite it as their first association with witches. The virtue presented by these bodies of work is that they describe and demonstrate the puzzling phenomenon known as the “witch’s craft” in a way not found otherwise in period sources.

One should not allow oneself to be distracted by the disagreeable elements of Shakespeare’s presentation, such as the infamous ingredients-litany of the Witches’ Brew (IV.i.1-37) , which starts off with eyes of newts and toes of frogs before culminating in a horrific porridge of body-parts and animal intestines.

Such sections represent Shakespeare’s concessions to the rabidly anti-witch views held by Elizabeth’s successor, the new King James I of England, who ascended following Elizabeth’s death in 1603. As James VI of Scotland, his Majesty had published Daemonologie, an attack on witches as socially corrupt persons and failure to be in endorsement of royal opinion was a severely fraught stance.

Peering through the grotesque but self-protective veil that Shakespeare hangs in front of his work, one finds that the witchcraft depicted by the Bard of Avon nonetheless plays heavily upon two traditional and fundamental concepts- the performance of magic through the creation of charmed, circular space, and the powering of this specialized space by the raising up of magical, charming energies.

Folklorists have long identified the “ring-dance” (holding hands and dancing in a ring) as a particular activity of both faeries and witches; in Witches and Jesuits, Garry Wills interprets the blocking of the Three Witches of Macbeth in terms of their “spinning” or generating a magically charmed precinct through circular motion. (The notorious Cauldron Speech that opens Act IV actually accompanies such an “energy-generating” performance, immediately prior to the Scottish King’s entrance.

It is fascinating to consider that the Witches’ line “Open locks, whoever knocks” [IV.i.45] suggests that they have placed magical protections around their spell-working site- exactly as we ourselves would do- and that it is necessary to “cut” others into the circle. It is also interesting to reflect that they describe Macbeth as the “something wicked” that “this way comes.”) .

The conclusion to the so-called “Witches’ Scene” is another example of a witches’ circle-dance, as the Three launch into an “antic round” (IV.i.130) in mocking contempt for the Scottish King and Murderer: “I’ll charm the air to give a sound while you perform our antic round, that this great king may kindly say, our duties did his welcome pay!” Thus with one final whirling circle, the Three take their last leave of the soon-to-fall tyrant.

The instant before they first greet Macbeth (“A drum- a drum! Macbeth doth come!”) , the Witches (who have been anticipating this encounter since the play’s opening scene) perform a ring-dance (or dance in a witches’ circle) in order to create the charmed atmosphere that the late 1500s and early 1600s considered appropriate for events of a magical nature. As if to remove any doubt about the matter, they helpfully (in fact) inform us so (I.iii.31) :

“The Weird Sisters, hand in hand, posters of the sea and land, thus do go about! About! Thrice to thine and thrice to mine and thrice again to make up nine! Peace- the charm’s wound up.”

As the text makes plain, the Three join hands (“hand to hand”) and “thus do go about”- they go around in a circle (presumably nine times, although one imagines this may be fudged a bit during actual performances) . Their purpose is made explicit when they halt (“Peace”) and judge that their charm is “wound up.”

It is within this mini-arena of charmed and potent space that they greet Macbeth, soon to be the Scottish king through murder and usurpation.

Unique in Shakespeare’s canon is Macbeth’s status as a hexed play with a dark and malevolent curse attached. It plainly is not clear when this superstition might have developed, but within theater communities there is a firm belief against uttering The Name out loud when one is backstage, for to do so is to invite the terrible malignancy of outraged fate. (Productions of the Scottish Play, as it is cautiously called, are famed for plagues of injury and accident.) In sensible and sage manner, a ceremony exists to throw off the dark importuning of the Fateful Word. The rash actor must immediately move herself outside the space of the theater (or at least the dressing room or backstage area) and unwind the grim energies by spinning in a counter-clockwise circle- she must spin widdershins, in other words.

In the movie The Dresser, Albert Finney plays an actor who must perform this ritual when he lets slip the Name of the Scottish King. The superstition is fascinating because it mimics in minor the execution of a witch’s round-dance. However, in this instance, one does not “wind up” a charm- one “unwinds” bad or wicked fortune.

An activity on a par with much documented English folk-magic, the ceremony of “casting off” the dark energies of Shakespeare’s Scottish play has become as intertwined with the play as any portion of its text. How remarkable then, that within the play’s lore, are found two examples of the logic that lies behind the witches’ ring-dance - an express instance of the “winding up” of a witch’s charm and an implicit demonstration of the “unwinding” of ill-omened actions.

In both cases, these seem to me to be examples of the strange and obscure practice attributed to witches and articulated by Gerald Gardner as “raising energy.”






ABOUT...

Zan Fraser


Location: New York City, New York

Website: http://www.witchvox.com/books/dt_bk.html?id=1499




Other Articles: Zan Fraser has posted 22 additional articles- View them?

Other Listings: To view ALL of my listings: Click HERE




Email Zan Fraser... (Yes! I have opted to receive invites to Pagan events, groups, and commercial sales)

To send a private message to Zan Fraser ...



Pagan Essays
1996-2014





Pagan Web
8,000 Links





Pagan Groups
Local Covens etc.





Pagan/Witch
80,000 Profiles














Home - TWV Logos - Email US - Privacy
News and Information

Chapters: Pagan/Heathen Basics - Pagan BOOKS - Traditions, Paths & Religions - Popular Pagan Holidays - TV & Movies - Cats of the Craft - Festival Reviews - Festival Tips - White Pages (Resources) - Issues/Concerns - West Memphis 3 - Witch Hunts - Pagan Protection Tips - Healing Planet Earth

Your Voices: Adult Essays - Young Pagan Essays - Pagan Perspectives (On Hold) - WitchWars: Fire in the Craft - Gay Pagan - Pagan Parenting - Military - Pagan Passages

Pagan Music: Pagan Musicians - Bardic Circle at WitchVox - Free Music from TWV

Vox Central: About TWV - Wren: Words, Wrants and Wramblings - Guest Rants - Past Surveys - A Quest for Unity

Weekly Updates: Click HERE for an index of our weekly updates for the past 6 years

W.O.T.W. - World-Wide Networking

Your Town: A Link to YOUR Area Page (The largest listing of Witches, Pagans, Heathens and Wiccans on the Planet)

VoxLinks: The Pagan Web: 8,000 Listings

Your Witchvox Account: Log in Now - Create New Account - Request New Password - Log in Problems

Personal Listings: Pagan Clergy in Your Town - Adult Pagans - Young Pagans - Military Pagans

Events: Circles, Gatherings, Workshops & Festivals

Covens/Groups/Orgs: Local Groups Main Page

Other LOCAL Resources: Local Shops - Regional Sites - Local Notices - Global/National Notices - Local Skills & Services - Local Egroups - Political Freedom Fighters

Pagan Shopping: Online Shops Index - Original Crafters Sites - Auction Sites - Pagan Wholesalers - Pagan Local Shops



Web Site Content (including: text - graphics - html - look & feel)
Copyright 1997-2014 The Witches' Voice Inc. All rights reserved
Note: Authors & Artists retain the copyright for their work(s) on this website.
Unauthorized reproduction without prior permission is a violation of copyright laws.

Website structure, evolution and php coding by Fritz Jung on a Macintosh G5.

Any and all personal political opinions expressed in the public listing sections (including, but not restricted to, personals, events, groups, shops, Wren’s Nest, etc.) are solely those of the author(s) and do not reflect the opinion of The Witches’ Voice, Inc. TWV is a nonprofit, nonpartisan educational organization.

Sponsorship: Visit the Witches' Voice Sponsor Page for info on how you
can help support this Community Resource. Donations ARE Tax Deductible.
The Witches' Voice carries a 501(c)(3) certificate and a Federal Tax ID.

Mail Us: The Witches' Voice Inc., P.O. Box 341018, Tampa, Florida 33694-1018 U.S.A.
Witches, Pagans
of The World




Search Articles
1996-2014










 Current Topic
 Editorial Guide


NOTE: The essay on this page contains the writings and opinions of the listed author(s) and is not necessarily shared or endorsed by the Witches' Voice inc.

The Witches' Voice does not verify or attest to the historical accuracy contained in the content of this essay.

All WitchVox essays contain a valid email address, feel free to send your comments, thoughts or concerns directly to the listed author(s).