OBSERVEDPRACTICESANDINVOCATIONSOFTHEMODERNWITCHCULTS

So recently I had this idea. It was a small idea at first, and then it got slightly bigger, and slowly but surely it grew, until it became an idea for a book, which turned into a plan for the book, which turned into a written down structure for the book, which turned into a few pages of writing about executions of the poetry, methods, inspirations, influences, purposes and intentions about the book. So, now that this has happened, I think I should tell you a little bit about it. 

First and foremost, I’m fascinated with WITCHES. Not real witches, not ladies who have dreadlocks and nose piercings and practice wicca in Hebden Bridge, not the film The Craft (good film but I’m aware it’s a work of fiction), but the thing that keeps us fascinated with witches. I’m fascinated with the mystery surrounding witches. When I talk about this book I must stress it is not a feminist work (I am a feminist, but this is not on my list of priorities for this particular project; of course feminist principles stand but this book is not an allegory for feminism) – this book will not be about madwomen or old women or lonely women or their demonisation. The book will touch upon those themes, and indeed the poems I’ve written already feature elements of madness, but I want to talk about the unknown, not the personal / political. 

The book is called Observed Practices and Invocations of the Modern Witch Cults and it is a collection of poems and original images by me. The poems are only short, and follow the theme of being written by someone living in a small town where things seem to be changing subtly and only the narrator seems to notice. Maybe things in the town aren’t changing at all, maybe there are no witches, or maybe the narrator isn’t seeing things clearly, or maybe there actually are people attempting witch craft and the narrator can’t tell if their attempts are working or not, or if the magical things that seem to be happening are just the product of an imagination run wild. The book will be transgressive, as the narrator’s voice gets more and more unreliable as the book goes on. In writing it, I will be using some surrealist techniques (in particular automatic writing and paranoiac-critical) and will begin keeping a dream diary by my bed and writing down my dreams as soon as I wake. This is proven to make you remember your dreams much more vividly, and also encourages lucid dreaming. I will use the lucid dreaming to try and explore my subconscious and take symbols from it to use in the poetry of the book. 

Even if there is no such thing as magic (and I am the biggest skeptic you will meet – never have I wanted to get my tarot read or buy healing crystals or explore wicca or make my own candles and the closest I came to satanism was reading a lot of Max Stirner and believing in worshipping the self) there is a wonderful ceremony surrounding it. Mysterious lightings of candles. Chants and invocations. So called possessions. Incantations. Cloaks and hoods. Silence. Singing. Unexplainable noises. Black cats. Spells. Potions. Unnatural forces. It is this I want to explore more than anything else. Why are snippets of random conversation played over and over again in a dark room scary? Why is backwards talking so terrifying? Why do unfamiliar noises upset us? What is it that makes us feel so uneasy about something we logically know cannot be real? 

So, this is the brief idea for the book. The idea may modulate and grow and sometimes things will change, but this is it in its infancy. I have also decided that in order for me to actually stick with this and make it into something I can be very proud of, I’m going to use this idea for my creative dissertation at university. This way, I will get the help I need to expand on the poems, get feedback, and also it guarantees that by the Summer, in my hands I will be able to hold a short collection I am very proud of and naturally I will have a few weeks of absolute enthusiasm whereby I send it off to all kinds of publishers and then eventually realise nobody wants it so I’ll put it out on Lulu and sell it to you for eight nicker. 

Keep your eyes peeled, anyway. This is going to be exciting. 

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1 comment
  1. this is very excellent. Fabulous subject – I remember devouring Keith Thomas’ Religion and the Decline of Magic, and being obsessed with Aleister Crowley. When you have a paperback you must get it stocked at Watkins Books in Cecil Court

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