Blood is in Magic, a source of considerable power that is unleashed in a Ritual of SACRIFICE, usually the killing of an animal or a fowl but sometimes a human. Blood shed in a ritual is believed to have magic powers to appease deities and spirits, cause spirits to appear, ensure good harvests and good luck, and to provide a source of magical power to the magician.
Blood sacrifices are part of most grimoires, derived from ancient Hebrew 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 beat to death with a white cane will provide blood that can be used in sympathetic magic: Smear the blood on a victim or his 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 ( see Evocation ) in a ritual that involved slitting the throat 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 few drops of a person’s blood gives a witch or a 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 that is released on execution. Spectators at public executions such as beheadings sought to obtain the victims’ blood on handkerchiefs or bits of cloths for later use in magical rituals.
Human blood also is used to seal pact s 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 breath (the mouth and nose) 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 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.
In folk magic, menstrual blood is believed to be a powerful ingredient in love potions and charms. A few drops of menstrual blood mixed in a man’s meal supposedly will secure his undying love. Conversely, menstrual blood also is used in charms to cause impotency.
In many modern magical ceremonies, menstruating women are barred from participation because it is believed their fux interferes with the raising of psychic power and the effectiveness of spells.
- Cavendish, Richard. The Black Arts. New York: G.P. Putnam’s Sons, 1967.
- Guiley, Rosemary Ellen. The Encyclopedia of Witches and Witchcraft. 2d ed. New York: Facts On File Inc., 1999.