Cheryl Durst, one of The Vault’s featured guest writers, has written an account about Witchcraft and what we might expect in Season 4 of True Blood. Below is her article where she not only schools us on witches, but provides some of her own Season 4 speculation:
The premiere of True Blood S4 is drawing nigh and we know that it will be “the season of the witch”. When I think about witches I can’t help but conjure up an image of an old ugly hag dressed in a black floor length hooded garment. The hooded garments, I found out, were once used to protect the identities of those of old, who were practicing witches, because condemnation and death would be the price a practicing witch would pay for their beliefs. Much has changed in modern society concerning witches and their freedom to practice their rituals as well as the way they dress.
In preparation of True Blood S4, for those of us who might not be very familiar with witchcraft, I’ve done a bit of research on the subject. I hope this crash course will provide enlightenment for those of us unfamiliar with the finer points of casting circles and incantations and other witchery.
Wicca: “spirit over flesh”
After our departure from Bon Temps in True Blood S3, we know of one person in town who is a professed Wiccan: Holly Cleary. There could be more sinister intentions lurking within our Wiccan woman but until that would be reveled we have to assume, for now, that Holly is what she professes to be; a fairly benign, herbal using Wiccan.
Holly in the circle helping Arlene
The Wicca practice is a pagan religion that is centuries older that Judaism. The core of the Wicca belief is that nature and all the forces of nature can be called upon to do their bidding. The Wiccans do not believe in manipulation of the universal forces but rather tend to ask, pray or perform ceremonies to plead their requests. If you recall, Holly told Arlene that if the spirit in her unborn baby wanted to be born, it would be so and the ritual that Holly performed might not cause spontaneous abortion of Arlene’s unborn.
Wiccans sometimes employ Gods and Goddesses in their ceremonies simply to show the balance in nature. The practice is symbolic rather than actually believing that the Gods and Goddesses exist. Authentic witchcraft is not Satanic because witches don’t believe in the devil, let alone invoke him. In one segment of information that I read while researching this article, I found that Wiccans believe Satan is simply an entity that a guilty Christian made up after they had committed a sin. The Old Horned God of the witches is not the Satan of Christianity, he is actually the oldest deity known to humanity, the phallic God of Fertility. If an evil entity such as Satan does exist, to a Wiccan, it would probably be bad karma returning to them for something they did to someone else. Wiccans have rituals similar to “Satanic” rituals only because the early Satanists mimicked or borrowed rituals from the pagans. As far as sacrifices, very few Wiccans perform sacrificial ceremonies because it is in direct opposition to their respect for nature.
Wicca is a socially and ecologically responsible religion and Wiccan ethics are positive rather than prohibitive: ‘Do as you will, and harm ye none’. That is, you must not use magic for anything which will cause harm to anyone on any level for any reason. You do so at your own risk.
Wiccans use the pentagram as their symbol with the star turned right side up to symbolize “spirit over flesh” as opposed to Satanists who are symbolized by a pentagram turned right side down believing in “flesh over the spirit”.
The Law of The Threefold Return: “Any energy you send out shall return to you threefold.”
Milla Dietrich, who is the author of the book, WitchCraft Book of Happiness, explains: “There is only one law in witchcraft resembling anything like a commandment. It states that if a witch does harm, it returns to her/him threefold”.
The number three symbolizes one of the magical processes involved in spell casting; the spell is invoked and thus sent out into the energy of the universe. This energy then comes back into the world to manifest in the desired way before reverberating in the life of the person working the magic to the power of three. The Threefold Law is the basic working philosophy of witchcraft. This is a natural law, but also an obvious incentive for witches to keep their magic positive, life-affirming and harmful to none. Performing witchcraft is taking a great responsibility upon yourself and it calls for rules – rules which are all the more important because often it is only you who will know if you are honestly obeying them. The observance, or not, of these rules is what distinguishes white from black magic. All of these rules can be summed up in the phrase, ‘Harm ye none’.
Circles, Salt, Candles and Spells
Creating a magic circle is commonly known as “casting” a circle. In Wicca ritual the diameter of a magic circle is usually nine feet in diameter and there are several techniques in which circles are cast. The common feature of circle casting is that a boundary is traced around the working area and may or may not be physically marked on the ground. Some circles might have detailed patterns that can be found in magical manuals and grimoires (a book of instructions in the use of magic or alchemy especially for summoning demons). Elaborate patterns or a simple unadorned circle can be drawn in salt or chalk or designated by other means. An “athame” (a double-bladed black handled dagger used for ritual magic) is sometimes used to cast and dissolve the circle. If the “athame” is ever used to cut organic matter it is considered unfit to be used in a ritual; it is never used to cut anything in the physical plane. The four cardinal directions (north, east, south and west) are often conspicuously marked with four candles. Almost always, an incantation is spoken to state the purpose and nature of the magic circle.
The most common practice of a witch is the casting of spells or incantations. A spell is basically the tool used to effect a change and accomplish a magical action. The spell can be used to bewitch someone or something, influence a certain course or event or to infuse magic into healing potions or objects. Spells can be spoken over an herbal concoction but it is said that the best spells are enacted through conducting an elaborate and mysterious ceremony of ritual magic.
Once the ritual is completed, the circle is closed. Closing the circle is the reverse of the casting procedure. The deities that were called upon during the ritual are thanked for their help and then the four directions/quarters are relinquished. Taking down the circle is performed by walking in the opposite direction around the perimeter of the circle with the athame pointing out from the center of the circle.
Black Magic,Voodoo and Brujas
“Black Magic” is simply the term for sorcery that is practiced for evil purposes most often using and/or evoking the help and aid of evil spirits. It is demonic witchcraft using negative power to do harm. I suppose one could say it is the opposite of the practice of Wicca which professes to harm none. Although witches practicing “black magic” might call upon evil entities to do their bidding, they are not considered Satanists unless, of course, they do indeed worship Satan. As stated above, overall, witches do not believe in Satan.
The word “voodoo” comes from the word “vudu” which is a Dahomean word meaning “spirit”. Dahomeans are a sect of people living in a certain area of West Africa. This “spirit” is a mysterious and intangible force thought to have the power to influence human affairs. Voodoo was brought to Louisiana around 1720 through the slave trade when Louisiana was, at that time, a French colony. Most all of the African slaves came from Benin, West Africa, and they (for the most part) practiced ancestor worship. The West Africans had great knowledge of how to use herbs and poisons and they created charms and amulets that had the potential to protect or to harm; out of these elements was born Louisiana voodoo.
Voodoo is still practiced today in Louisiana and the worship of spirits remains a vital part of the practice. Those who follow Louisiana voodoo believe in only one God but also believe that numerous other powerful spirits preside over their daily lives in matters of family, forces of nature and other life situations. Dancing and singing is thought to keep a strong connection with the spirits. Even the use of snakes is sometimes incorporated in their rituals due to the belief that the snake represents “Legba”, Voodoo’s main spirit, which is an intermediary and a conduit to all other spirits. Followers of Voodoo believe that the snake represents “healing knowledge and the connection between Heaven and Earth” and also believe that their deceased ancestors have the ability to arbitrate their lives.
There is nothing very mysterious concerning the word “bruja”. A “bruja” is simply a Mexican witch. From researching “bruja” I found many articles indicating that even though the Mexican people are steeped in Christianity, mostly Catholicism, they are still very superstitious and tied strongly to the old ways of shamans, Voodoo type rituals and witchcraft.
Necromancy is a form of divination. Divination is the practice of attempting to uncover future events or revealing hidden knowledge by using occult or supernatural means. Any spirits that are conjured for this purpose are called spirits of divination.
In order to practice necromancy the necromancer must have the ability to conjure up the dead by using powerful spirits for both the conjurer’s protection as well as making the corpse or ghost of the dead submissive to the will of the conjurer. Powerful spirits are bound to the dead by using an ancient spell that requires two crucial elements; a burnt sacrifice and a blood drenched altar. In addition to the burnt sacrifice and blood drenched altar, other detailed preparations go into place which include studying the planets (especially the influence of Saturn) as well as the moon.
The place where the ritual will be performed must be chosen with care. Some of the most favorable places are crossroads, vaults, ruins or a deserted forest. After the site has been chosen, the planets must be in proper alignment and, at that time, a concentric circle is drawn on the ground. Within this particular circle there will be certain crosses and other symbols inscribed.
After researching information and writing this article I am left questioning the integrity of a few already known True Blood characters. Holly asked Arlene to grab up the box of salt at Merlotte’s before they left the bar the night that Holly performed a ritual, a ritual that was supposed to rid Arlene of the fetus growing within her womb. Obviously the salt was used to purify the circle and/or designate the boundaries of the circle. If the athame is not supposed to be used to “cut” in the physical plane and sacrifices are not supposed to be required in Wiccan ritual, why then was the athame used to pierce Arlene’s finger and moreover, why was a “sacrifice” of Arlene’s blood required? I noticed that Holly made certain to end her incantation with “blessed be” and I have to wonder if she did that simply to protect herself. Certainly Holly is aware of the “Threefold Law” and it shall be most interesting to discover what comes back on Holly if her intentions all along are evil.
You fans have most likely been aware of Ruby Jean’s mutterings concerning all sorts of “things” coming to get her baby, Lafayette. Those mutterings might have gone unnoticed by some or simply thought to be the ridiculous jabber of a mentally ill woman but I find it very interesting that Ruby Jean warns Lafayette on occasion about all the “things” that are out to get her baby boy. And, is it simply sheer coincidence that Jesus is the nurse taking care of Ruby Jean? Aren’t we all just a tiny bit suspicious of sexy, good looking Jesus with his heritage of bruja family members and his involvement with Lafayette? We have no way of knowing, quite yet, what Ruby Jean Reynolds revealed to Jesus about her son. I have a feeling that Ruby Jean might have unknowingly told Jesus things about Lafayette that might have been best kept to herself. Jesus and Lafayette’s “V” trip revealed witchcraft that was performed for various reasons by both of their ancestors. Seems like Jesus had an especially evil grandfather. And what is up with all those Voodoo dolls and religious icons in Lafayette’s house? I have been curious as well as suspicious of them from the beginning of the series. Voodoo dolls are used in some witchcraft rituals.
Somewhere along the way I thought I read or heard that Jesus is somehow related to Calvin Norris. Yes, Calvin Norris from Hot Shot who was shot in the head and died. Can’t wait to see if there is any truth to that bit of scuttlebutt. Jesus certainly was anxious to help Calvin the night that Calvin got badly injured at Merlotte’s Bar and Grill. Was his desire to help Calvin simply due to Jesus being a nurse or is it because Calvin is somehow related to Jesus? If I recall, Jesus does have a tattoo of a magnificent panther on his body and he was a bit vague as to why he has that tattoo when Lafayette questioned him about it.
Jesus panther tattoo
My friend, Judy Minghini, is thinking that Rene Lenier is going to be summoned back from the dead to do some evil deed(s). Just the thought of it gives me chills. I have a vision of Rene sauntering the streets and back roads of Renard Parish holding his head in his hands while he is in a semi state of decay and rot and he still hates fang bangers. Rene’s unholy spirit is most likely what the necromancers will be conjuring rather than his corpse but this is True Blood we’re talking about so who knows! Let’s face it, anyone who has died on the show or is among the “walking dead” (vampires) will be defenseless against the necromancers. With the witches having their way with the vampires as well as summoning up the really dead folks, True Blood S4 is undoubtedly going to be quite interesting and intense and full of surprises.
Ah, yes, have we seen the last of Yvetta? If it turns out that Yvetta is a witch or even related to a witch, I would hate to be Eric Northman because his last words to Yvetta were: “You gold digging whore.” Now that would be enough to make any stripper worth her G-string angry enough, at the very least, to erase Mr. Northman’s memory!
Now you know a little bit about witchcraft and other forms of unnatural manipulation through the use of spirits both real and imagined, benign and evil. Unless you are a practicing witch you don’t have much defense against any evil spells cast your way so grab your family and friends and draw a circle using salt. Make certain you’re inside that circle and get those white candles lit to represent purity and goodness and hope for the best. Blessed be!