It seems that I just can’t get enough of writing about witches and magic. And I just have to share what I find with you.
As I’ve mentioned in a previous post, magic in literature and folklore can present in different ways. I also I explored the origins and importance of witches and warlocks in folklore earlier this year. Yet, I haven’t gone into the different kinds of witches that exist. After a prompt for a competition got me thinking, I started looking at what is possible.
Witches have always needed help to be stronger. Like grimoires (spell books) that hold knowledge of others.
They also use other means.
In European folklore and folk-belief of the Medieval and Early Modern periods, familiar spirits (sometimes referred to simply as “familiars” or “animal guides“) were believed to be supernatural entities that would assist witches and cunning folk in their practice of magic. According to the records of the time, they would appear in numerous guises, often as an animal, but also at times as a human or humanoid figure, and were described as “clearly defined, three-dimensional… forms, vivid with colour and animated with movement and sound” by those alleging to have come into contact with them, unlike later descriptions of ghosts with their “smoky, undefined form[s]”.
When they served witches, they were often thought to be malevolent, while when working for cunning folk they were often thought of as benevolent (although there was some ambiguity in both cases). The former were often categorised as demons, while the latter were more commonly thought of and described as fairies. The main purpose of familiars is to serve the witch or young witch, providing protection for them as they come into their new powers.
Since the 20th century a number of magical practitioners, including adherents of the Neopagan religion of Wicca, have begun to utilise the concept of familiars, due to their association with older forms of magic. These contemporary practitioners utilize pets, wildlife or believe that invisible spirit versions of familiars act as magical aids.
The moon is also an important source of magic.
The Moon is the most important heavenly body to witches. We draw on her power for lunar magic. We cast our spells in accord with her cycles. She inspires and illuminates us. There are moon gods, but the Moon has always been perceived as female.
There’s loads of folklore associated with the moon.
– More can be read in Encyclopedia of Wicca and Witchcraft by Raven Grimassi
Magic uses a great deal of vital energy, and anyone who practices magic regularly must take care not to become depleted. Beings outdoors, consciously making contact with nature and the elements, also restores vitality.
Grounding before every magical working or psychic exercise prevents us from becoming depleted. Instead of draining our own vitality, we tap directly into the unlimited sources of elemental energy in the earth. Power flows through us, not out of us.
Magic recognizes that the Earth is full of gifts, that anyone can access Earth’s energy and that there is enough for everyone. In fact, magic power is constantly being generated, and the energy that each individual produces affects and may be drawn upon by others.
All of which leads to the interesting question: can witches draw power from others?
I couldn’t find anything in modern or traditional folklore, but I did find an answer in television and games.
Siphoners, or Siphons, are a subsection of witches born without the ability to generate magic, but a rare power allowing them to siphon off from other magical sources. They are considered abominations by many witch communities despite being born with their abilities and may face harsh treatments towards their covens when discovered.
They appear to be rare and few in numbers although they are rather controversial due to the discovery in which they have the potential to become vampire-witch hybrids.
Powers and abilities:
- Siphoning: Their main natural ability, siphoners have the rare ability to absorb magic in all forms, from another source. By extension, they are able to detect the magic within other beings as well as unravel the most sophisticated of spells.
- Spell Casting: Siphoners, after having absorbed magic, have the ability to cast spells like any witch. Changing and controlling events through the use of incantations and more.
- Potion Brewing: The power to brew and concoct potions, remedies and elixirs that have supernatural properties.
Siphoning is a distinct ability of Siphoners and Vampire-Witch Hybrids to absorb magic power from another source other than themselves. A source of magic can come from anything including witches, spells, enchanted objects and even vampire blood.
This ability often requires physical contact and when activated, gives off a faint red glow.
The Siphon Witches are a group of three Wizards found in the Story Mission Chamber of Night . They are encountered in the final chamber, where they are seen surrounding a shard of the Traveler, conducting a ritual that is draining the Traveler of Light.
Intrigued by the way they used Siphons in The Vampire Diaries, I did my own spin on witches drawing magic from sources besides themselves. I started with how I represent them on the Origin of the Fae page and added a little something extra.
Witches [On the Origin of the Fae Page]
As with the Fae, human magic-users are classified under their own gifts as well. Some control fire, some water, some air (wind) and some earth. Some even have power over that which dwells within their element of control.
Only Druids seem to have power over everything.
Certain bloodlines of witches and Warlocks have found the power of Runes and thus power like Druids through branding their skin with various Runes. Dangerous and possibly fatal.
Though I’m not going to add what Siphons are to the Origin of the Fae page, it’s important to remember that they can take magic from their environment and from others, making them stronger. They can also use the magic within any creature (like Ghouls) against them. Mostly because there’s magic in everything, even apples.
I used them, among others, in my entry for the Wattpad Fantasy Community’s competition featuring a scraggly tree, mysterious mirror and any horror element. Enjoy.
“A young man stepped out of the shadows. He couldn’t be much older than she was, but his eyes were empty and cruel.
‘What’s your crime?’ he asked.
She tried to pass him, but he blocked her. And others joined him.
‘Bloodletting? Dark magic? Runes?’
The eager way the older witch asked made Karen’s skin crawl.
‘Siphoning,’ she answered.
She got the expected reaction: they all took a step back like she was a monster. Which she probably was. At least that’s how her coven felt.
Someone whistled, impressed.
‘Makes the rest of us look like mere nursery bogies.’
Shoulders straight, Karen marched past them all to the castle entrance.” – The Tree, Ronel Janse van Vuuren
I hope you enjoy reading this chilling tale. Comments can be left here or on Wattpad – I always appreciate feedback. What do you think of this version of witches? Do you know of tales of witches like this in folklore?