Maskelli Maskello 

The Maskelli Maskello formula appears in PGM IV. 2708-84 (lines 2752-55) where Hekate is directly invoked by the formula…

“Come, Hekate, of flaming council, I call you to my sacred chants MASKELLI MASKELLO PhNOUNKENTABAÔTh OREOBAZAGRA who bursts forth from the earth, / earth mare, OREOPEGANYX MORMORON TOKOUMBAI (add the usual).”

In his glossary (p336) Betz renders the formula as


Voces Magicae explains the formula a number of ways but primarily as an invocation of both Hekate and the Idaean Dactyls guardians of the newborn Zeus and master smiths associated with subterranean fires. The Dactyls are also invoked alongside Hekate in the Grammata of PGM LXX 4-25 so I decided to incorporate it into my daily devotions with an interpretation of the formula based on the information from Voces Magicae.

Sing the song of wisdom o’ hosts of hades; speak, o’ oracle of the mountains, and call forth the children of the earth mare, come split the earth asunder o’ Lords of Fire.
©Vicky Newton 2018

Curetes and the birth of Athena

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Summoning the Spirits

I know of witches who whistle at different pitches, calling things that don’t have names.

Helen Oyeyemi, White is for Witching

Whistling is a common power attributed to the historical Witch, whether it be linked to the calling of spirits or the brewing of storms and winds. Like anything attributed to a witch it is described as being a power which can bring both great harm and great good depending on the intent of the person who wields that power.

Whistling Up a Wind

Sailors and farmers alike lived at the mercy of the winds and the storms they might bring. A warm gentle wind might be exactly what the land needs in order to dry out a sodden landscape in order for the crop to grow but equally an ill wind may be whipped up to drawn down a dreadful storm to flatten flatten a crop and bring ruin and famine in its wake. Equally a sailor’s live/livelihood was entirely dependant on the wind. A wind, or lack of it, at the wrong moment could spell disaster.

My favourite, albeit fictional, description of a Witch whistling up a wind can be found in Philippa Gregory’s book the White Queen, where Elizabeth Woodville and her mother Jacquetta of Luxembourg whistle up a storm to trouble the Duke of Clarence as he flees to Calis. The scene is fiction but the storm, and the labour of Isabel Duchess of Clarence at sea which resulted in the death of the child, were very real events and both Jacquetta and her daughter were accused of Witchcraft in their own time.


Bone Sheep Whistle – Museum of Witchcraft

Calling the Spirits

Whistling was the kind of activity which could get a woman in to trouble, particularly in Puritan circles. Such a noise making was considered unseemly and the preserve of men and at best it was the act of a woman thumbing her nose at the god given authority of the men around her. At worst the whistling as a sign that she was using Witchcraft, particularly malicious magic intended to cause harm.

On a sympathy level the association of whistling and wind makes a great deal of sense. Like calls like, and by imitating the wind with their own breath the operator draws the wind towards them. The other reason that whistling works so well is the attention getting nature of the piercing pitch of a well blown whistle, and by whistling the Witch is perceived as summoning familiar spirits to do their bidding, whether that be to drive the wind or carry their spells.

Whistle Up a Wind

The process of whistling up a wind is almost as easy as Gregory depicts in her book. Pick the direction from which you wish the wind to come from, pucker up and blow. The whistle should imitate the kind of wind you are trying to generate. Long, low and gentle for a soft breeze or high, sharp and loud for a windstorm.

Directionality is also important on two fronts. Firstly, it is important to face the direction from which you want the wind to blow. It is like calling a dog to you, you are more likely to get their attention if you are facing them when you issue the summons. Secondly, direction is also an important consideration when deciding on what kind of wind you want to generate. This is going to largely depend on your locality but for myself in middle England I would whistle to the North for a cold wind, the West or East for something wet or South for a warm wind etc. If I wanted to dry out the land I wouldn’t be whistling up the North, East or West.

Don’t worry if you never mastered whistling, you can use actual whistles, or even penny whistles, to achieve the same and there is always the bullroarer.

The Roar of the Bull

It’s amazing what you can achieve with a stick on a string, which effectively all a bullroarer is. The ‘stick’ is usually a rhombus shape (from which the Greek word for the tool is taken, rhombos) and when twirled on a long string it produces a noise which is a long low roaring whirr which is likened to the bellow of a bull, hence the name given to it in English. The rhombus was famously used in Dionysian rituals;

“And bull-voices roar thereto from somewhere out of the unseen, there are fearful semblances…  From an image as it were the sound of thunder underground is borne on the air heavy with dread.”
Aeschylus, describing the sound of the bullroarer in the rituals of the Orphic-Dionysian mystery cult.

Thought the design and use may vary this ritual tool appears all over the world, from Australia to American. For example the Tupi culture of South America uses the hori hori in religious rituals whilst the Māori use the pūrerehua for healing and bringing rains. A number of aboriginal groups in Australia use this tool in their rituals and initiations to ward away bad spirits and their use is restricted to initiated men, with their handling by women, children and non- initiates being deeply taboo. On the flip side various North American tribes allow these tools to be used as toys by children as well as using them as ritual items.

As such it is possible to divide the use of the bullroarer into four main categories;

  • Weather Control
  • Spirit Calling/Aversion
  • Healing
  • Toys

It is hard to say if the bullroarer had a presence in the lands now known as the United Kingdom. Certainly it isn’t until the age of the antiquarian that we find written and literary references of natives of Britain and Ireland making use of bullroarers or “boomers” as either toy or ritual tool. Alfred C Haddon makes mention of the bullroarer in Britain twice in his book The Study of Man, firstly as a method of averting lightening and also as a “sacred thing” but only after concentration (pages 222 and 225).

Whether their use is an ancient one or something that same about after the age of colonialism, and the collections that emerged as a result of this is not clear. 

Today there are some witches that use the bullroarer in their own practice and do so in a way consistent with older practices from around the world. In particular they are used to to raise up the spirits of the land, create sacred spaces and/or send spells upon the wind.

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Howl to the Moon for Wolfenoot

I don’t want it to be said that I have anything against modern rituals / celebrations. Wolfenoot is, to my mind, the best thing since sliced bread for a couple of reasons.

First and foremost I love wolves and anything that celebrates and honours these magnificent animals is a worthy event in my book.

Secondly, *a kid* came up with it! Imagination is a powerful tool, and for a seven year old to come up with such a well thought out and structured celebration, even if it has been his parents and the internet to help make this thing go viral, is an awesome thing. Perhaps he has the makings of a future cult leader, who knows, because his Mum (Mom?) has wisely kept his name separate from the celebrations internet presence.  

Thirdly, although Wolfenoot is not directly associated with any form of denominational belief (though is does embody everything that pagans love such as animals, spirits and cake!) it is a really good example of how “spiritual but not religious” works.

The celebration does, however, have the potential to turn into one of my biggest bugbears with the wider Pagan community. The wider collective seems to have this deep, ingrained desire to make everything we do ancient and connected to civilisations that would barely recognise our spiritual and religious practices.

The cynic in me wonders when Wolfenoot will be transformed into some kind of Native America/Norse/Celtic celebration of the Winter Wolf where we appease the spirits of Wolf and Winter for a successful year ahead.

No! That is not a suggestion because there simply isn’t the need.

There is beauty in the modern idea, even more so when it in its innocence is touches of chilling developments such as the repeal of Obama-era hunting bans which included the killing of wolf pups in the den (source 1, source 2).

The creators of Wolfenoot are refreshingly honest and open about its origins but I wonder how long it will take before such openness is lost to the sands of time. Modern celebratory creations can exist under their own sheer presence and have no need to have spurious ancient connotations attached and I truly hope that Wolfenoot can weather the storm.

How to Celebrate Wolfenoot

Let’s take the concept straight from the words of the creator.

“My son has invented a holiday called Wolfenoot.

It is when the Spirit of the Wolf brings and hides small gifts around the house for everyone. People who have, have had, or are kind to dogs get better gifts than anyone else.

You eat roast meat (because wolves eat meat) and cake decorated like a full moon.

A holiday to the spirit of wolves that celebrates people who are kind to dogs? I can 100% get behind this. So we will be celebrating Wolfenoot. It’s on the 23rd November if anyone else is moved to celebrate it. 😉 If you do, please post pics, so he can see how his idea has spread.

If you’re posting publicly about it, use #wolfenoot.”


Seems straight forward right?

The Wolfenoot creators have recognised the adaptability of their creation and it is clear in their FAQ’s that they are happy for people to take this idea and run with it so long as the core purpose remains.  

Our Wolfenoot

One of my earliest guides as a callow pagan youth was the wolf, and its presence is still around me from time to time and I thought that Wolfenoot was a good time to honour and re-establish that connection. I asked the eldest if she would like to celebrate Wolfenoot with me and despite neither of us really being dog people she was more than up for it.

So, we went for beauty in simplicity in no small part because we had a very busy weekend. I spent the week leading up to the day wearing a particular wolf necklace that I own and on the day created a simple focus using the Wolf Card from Philip Carr-Gomm Druid Animal Oracle deck.

Then I attempted to lead the eldest through a meditative journey and quickly learnt that I am not able to meditate and give instructions at the same time. So, instead, I gave her a simple journey and allowed her to go into her own space with the card and (electric) candle so she could journey to meet the wolf as a spirit guide.

In addition for requesting guidance and strength for ourselves I will also incorporate a pledge of support for the species, later making a one off donation to a relevant animal charity. Unfortunately there was no cake or roast meat, though we did have our fill of both over the weekend so we probably made up for lost time at that point.

I do intend to make this an annual event in our household, writing it up into the appropriate calendar, though I will be deviating from the original purpose. I will celebrate on the November full moon, which next year will be the 12th November. I realise that this isn’t consistent with the original intent of Wolfenoot but it would fit my ritual calendar better.

So whether you were howling to the moon this Wolfenoot or not, I hope you enjoy the full moon this weekend.

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Leeds Interfaith – Light for Leeds

This week and next are a bit fraught due to various IRL commitments so posts will be brief.

One of those commitments has been minding the Pagan stall at the Light for Leeds Interfaith event at Kirkstall Abby today to help out local Pagan Federation represntative Jay.

Jay Anderson copyright Vicky Newton

At the core of this years celebration was the 100th anniversary of the close of World War I there is a special exhibition of artwork called “Faith In Peace And War” which focuses on the bridge forged between countries and faiths during that first terrible conflict.

It was great fun to talk to people about the contributions of both Gerald Gardener and Doreen Valiente during the first and second world wars and answer peoples questions about Paganism in general. There were lots of things to experience (and eat!) including the Islamic call to prayer and a fun and the Jewish Orthodox chior. I may have also splashed some cash in the gift shop.

So apologies for the brevity today but it’s time to cook tea and prep for school.

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Hydromancy (Ancient Greek ὑδρομαντεία, water-divination, from ὕδωρ, water, and μαντεία, divination) is a method of divination through which an answers were sought through the interpretation of the movement of water. This might include studying the color and flow of moving water, the ripples formed by water in a bowl or still body of water when agitated by a dropped pebble or suspended object, or the seeking of a vision within the water itself.

During the Renaissance hydromancy was counted amongst the seven “forbidden arts” which also included  necromancy, geomancy, aeromancy, pyromancy, chiromancy (palmistry), and spatulamancy (scapulimancy).

The Jesuit M. A. Del Rio described a number of different methods of hydromancy including hanging a ring by a string so that it is dipped into a vessel of water which was shaken. The number of times the ring struck the side of the bowl. Another method involved  pebbles thrown into standing water and the nature of the circles formed when the objects hit the water. The third method described depended upon the agitation of the water. A fourth method used colors of the water and figures appearing in it, which is often performed in in fountains. In a fifth method mysterious words are pronounced over a glass of water, then observations are made in its surface.

In the sixth method a oil suspended in water produced a mirror like surface through into which the operator gazed to obtain visions. Finally, the observation of the whirls and courses of rivers would be used to predict the future.  

As with all form of divination, the purpose of the act was to obtain hidden knowledge. Treasure hunting is a time honored tradition, as is seeking the guidance of the Gods and other spiritual beings in relation to events of the past, present and future. Regardless of its purpose, hydromancy has been used by seers and magicians alike throughout the ages as a way of predicting the future.

Hydromancy is also used by modern practitioners today. In its simplest form divination by water is simply the act of gazing into a body of water, be it a bowl of water poured for the purpose or a  woodland pool, which is reflecting the light of the moon. Usually we settle for tap water in an appropriate bowl, ideally blessed and consecrated for purpose, and I myself wouldn’t sniff at taking advantage of indoor plumbing. There is not immediately need to be overly nuanced in where we source our water from but those nuances are interesting in of themselves.

Take PGM IV 154-285 (Betz, The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation. P. 42) for example. Within the fragment is instructions for an ‘Inquiry of bowl divination and necromancy’ and laid out is the appropriate water source for the operation depending on purpose. To quote you need;

rainwater if you are calling upon heavenly gods, seawater if gods of the earth, river water if Osiris or Sarapis , spring water if the dead.

The sympathies at play here are clear. Rain water from on high is used to relay messages from the celestial deities. Salt water is used to contact those gods most closely aligned with the Earth being a mixture of water and earth.  River water, representing the rivers of the Underworld, is used to communicate with chthonic / underworld deities whilst spring water, being smaller in source and strength but still welling out of the very earth, aids in communicating with the Dead.  

I enjoy taking the spells and incantations of the PGM and adapting them for use. It isn’t all that hard to see the thread of a western magical tradition when you start reflecting these ancient spells into a modern mindset. Whilst I often remove the barbarous words entity I replace them with chants or more familiar magical phrases. Beyond that I keep as much of the ritual as possible. In the case of this divinatory ritual it is possible to maintain most, if not all, elements. Copper vessels, rather than bronze, are readily available in second hand and charity shops, olive oil is available on every supermarket shelf… the hardest thing might be to source water of the appropriate variety of one does not live by a spring, large river or by the sea, but effort is always part of magic.  


© Vicky Newton


You will need candle, metal or solid black bowl, water according to purpose, olive oil

Pour water into the bowl and then light the candle. Place it directly behind yourself, or back and to the side. The intention is to illuminate the water’s surface but not cause a reflection it in (you can use the moon for the same purpose) pour olive oil into the water and say

I call to my kin, my departed ancestors

Come to me now and aid my endeavor. Askai Kataski Kataski Aassia Asia Endasian.

Hither to me, O {name the god/spirit/ancestor you are invoking}! Appear to me and do not frighten my eyes. Come to me, O {repeat name you are invoking}, be attentive to me because he wishes and commands this.

Now ask your query out loud and study the bowl for images and keep yourself aware of other sources of information. Once you have finished asking questions and have received full responses dismiss the invoked spirit by saying

Trax Tetrax {name of god spirit ancestor} Damnameneus. Depart for the great god IAŌ and I wish and commands this of thee.

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The Pack

The night was dark and murky and air smelt mouldy. It was the kind of night one imagines shrouded Whitechapel when the Ripper stalked his victims, with a foul miasma hanging in the air. One could not prosaically shrugged off as the wholesome aroma of damp loamy earth because this was the stink of death and decay. The stench choked the lungs and closed the throat and was reminiscent of amcient gravyards and crypts, totally incongruent to the middle of the city.

Suddenly there is a movement in the swirling mist, followed by a deep guttural groan which lifted the heart rate to a manic pace.

Thump, scrape, thump, scrape … not a mechanical noise or one you would expect to hear so deep in the city. Thump, scrape, thump, scrape… the macabre groan echoed again from the mist, slowly moving closer. Thump, scrape, thump, scape… then silence as the mist swirled a form appeared in the distance.

The tattered remains of a dark suit provides some semblance of dignity to the figure ahead even giving the sense that this thing might actually be human. But it is an illusion of a mind whih wishes to deny the truth before it. The funeral garb is simply something that was stolen from a last meal, hanging badly off the gaunt and stringy limbs.

One leg was splayed out from the knee at a strange angle, the trousers torn to reveal the source of the noise when the creature walked. Crippling as the injury appeared there was no pain showing in the figures stance, mute testament that it was something beyond human. Clearing further, the mist retreated to reveal the details of a face filled with a mindless malice and aching hunger.

But it was the mouth; a gaping maw of black and white, that screamed all too clearly that the face that wore it was far from human.

Row upon row of shark like teeth lined that cavernous mouth, yellowed but not blunted by age or decay. Sharp and curved, they shone with saliva ready to sink into human flesh and rend a victim limb from limb. It was the mouth, that was what gave this dissembling creature away for what it truly was, and was the most terrifying aspect of all.

What the ghoul was doing so far from its graveyard was not clear to the man that viewed it, sorting through random and terrified thoughts to identify the being before it. Perhaps there were no new burials upon which it could feast and starvation had driven it out into the city proper.

Predator viewed prey, malevolence dripping from the tension that now filled the air.

Surely the the man could out run the shambling creature, raise the alarm and bring back the mob to finish it off. It is a single beast, and clearly it’s leg was damaged, perhaps broken in its desperate scramble over the cemetery wall. Escape would be easy …

… but a malicious gleam entered the creatures eyes. With a sickening shriek of bone sliding on bone the creature contorted its leg and forced the limb back into position. Not once did pain register on its face, but the anticipation of a long awaited meal was clear to see.

Rooted with fear, the meal watched, willing himself to run even as the creature took a testing, tentative step forward to test the leg but more movement robbed him of flight. Gibbering in fear he watched a second ghoul emerged from the shadows, then a third followed by a fourth and a fifth… Slowly the graveyard dwellers gathered in front of him, saliva dripping from their fangs, a ravenous pack of ghouls.

Fumbling, staggering, ridden by fear; the first of the ghouls many victims fell beneath snapping teeth, falling backwards as the first monstrous nightmare lept towards him. Streetlight flashed off its stained teeth as the jaw gaped wide, ready to mutilate and maim, the final sight of a man destined to die the moment he caught the smell of the dreadful stench that follows such creatures of death.

Many would die in that first night of murderous rampage, even more before the beasts were forced to return to their crypts and tunnles in the sprawling cemetery never to return, but never again would their presence be dismissed as myth or legend.

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Halloween and Samhain: Eves of Transformation

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