Blood is a source of power unleashed in ritual sacrifices to appease gods and conjure Demons and other spirits. Blood sacrifices are described in some Grimoires, supposedly derived from ancient rituals calling for animal sacrifices to please God.
Animal blood is used in folk Charms and spells. The blood of a black cat is said to cure pneumonia. A black hen beaten to death with a white cane will provide blood that can be used in sympathetic magic: Smear the blood on a victim or his or her clothing to Curse the victim with a death as agonizing as that of the hen. Aleister Crowley sacrificed animals in his magical rituals. In 1909, while working with his assistant, Victor Neuberg, Crowley had a formidable encounter with a Demon named Choronzon. The Demon was evoked in a ritual that involved slitting the throats of three pigeons and pouring their blood upon the sand.
Some sources of blood are considered to be more powerful than others. Human blood is identified with the soul and carries the greatest power. Ingesting human blood is believed to confer the powers and strengths of the victim upon the conqueror. Possessing a few drops of a person’s blood gives a witch or magician power over that person or enables the magician to harness that person’s emotional state. By the principles of sympathetic magic, a person may be bewitched or cursed.
The blood of executed criminals is said to be a powerful protector against disease and bad luck, because of the energy of resentment and fury, which is released upon execution. Spectators at public executions such as beheadings sought to obtain the victims’ blood on handkerchiefs or bits of cloth for later use in magical rituals. Human blood also is used to seal pacts of oath and brotherhood. During the European witch hunts of the Inquisition, it was believed that witches signed blood Pacts with the Devil to pledge servitude and obedience to him. The magical power of a witch could be neutralized or destroyed by burning her blood in fire—hence the common European method of execution by burning at the stake—or a practice called “blooding.” The witch was scored above the breast and allowed to bleed, sometimes to death.
Human blood was believed to strengthen the foundations of buildings, and sometimes sacrificial victims were walled up in temples, forts, and other structures.
Menstrual blood, which is linked to the phases of the Moon, is particularly potent. The blood of the Goddess, also called wine, milk, mead, and “wise blood,” appears universally in mythologies; it is drunk as a charm for wisdom, fertility, regeneration, immortality, and healing. The blood of ISIS, symbolized in an ambrosia drink, conferred divinity on pharaohs. According to ancient Taoism, red yin juice, as menstrual blood was called, conferred long life or immortality.
Menstrual blood has a long history of being feared by men, and prescriptions have been given against associating with, touching, or having sex with menstruating women, for their blood has the power to harm. Ancient Romans believed the touch of a menstruating woman could blunt knives, blast fruit, sour wine, rust iron, and cloud mirrors. In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:19 states, “You shall not come near a woman while she is impure by her uncleanness to uncover her nakedness.” The Talmud instructs that husband and wife are to be sexually separated during menstruation and for a week later in order to ensure cleanliness.
In Christianity, menstrual blood was believed to spawn Demons and to defile altars. Up to the late 17th century, menstruating women were forbidden to partake in communion or, in some cases, even to enter church.
Further Reading :
- Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967.
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches, Witchcraft, and Wicca. 3rd ed. New York: Facts On File, 2008.