Wednesday, January 22, 2014

The "Three-Fold Law" and "Harm None"

The “Three-Fold Law” and “Harm None”

I’ve seen many a cruel, twisted and venomous debate between various Pagans and Witches over the so call “Three-Fold Law” and the tenant of “harm none” in my many years of practicing the Craft. Be warned I’m going there and a few minor curse words are coming with me. You’re entitled to your opinion and welcome to comment as long as it is kept civil.

Rather inevitably in the “Three-Fold Law” conversations I see words like White Witch and Gray Witch tossed about, causing my right eye to twitch.  No, I’m not being sarcastic in this one instance my right eye does have a tendency to twitch when I see those labels.

I’m not Wiccan, though my practice involves many Wiccan overtones.
I’m not a Traditional Witch, though my faith is based on pre-Christian Pagan faiths. 
I’m not a White Witch, or a Gray Witch, nor do I practice black magick, though I do practice magick. 

You can, I’m sure, guess where this is going…I don’t believe in or abide by the “Three-Fold Law.”  Gasp, the horror, hide your children, lock your doors and pour your salt. 

The “Three-Fold Law,” for anyone who’s been on a walkabout for the past several years, is a Wicca specific thing and not all Pagans acknowledge it.  White/Gray/Black/Dark, all these terms are pure b.s., magick and Witchcraft are natural and while I know it’s been said before apparently it needs said again, nature is neither good nor bad.  The Concepts of good/bad or in this case white/gray/black/dark are all human constructs that we impose upon nature, which is all of these things.  It is good and bad and there is no separating the two; well at least without complete world ending disaster.  Balance people, it’s about balance.  Back to the main topic, just because we don’t follow this Wiccan creed doesn’t make us less or bad Pagans.  What’s so great about this “Three-Fold Law” anyway?

So in a faith that promotes taking responsibilities for ones own actions I’m supposed to sit by and do nothing while someone pokes me with hot irons (metaphorically) and wait patiently for some imaginary shit train called Karma to come by and give them their load?  First of all has anyone wondered why Wicca, which is supposed to be based on pre-Christian Pagans in the British isles and parts of western/northern Europe, holds tighter to a Hindu belief than I hold a steering wheel in a snow storm?  I realize that England had tons of contact of course with India by the time Gerald and his peeps were doing their thing but in all the eclectic vs pure tradition arguments how can any claim to be pure?  I digress again.  

I believe in taking control of my life, it’s one of the reasons I came to Paganism.   Christians have two contradictory sayings, “it’s in god’s hands” and “god helps those who help themselves.”  To me the “Three-Fold Law” can be equated to the first, that’s just not me.  I believe the gods help those who take their own initiative.  I don’t believe that because you’re such a good person you can just sit back and have the gods hand everything to you, there is effort required on your part.  I also don’t believe that if you do something “bad” that the gods are going to smite you with lightning.  Whatever we do to others we also do to ourselves for we are all connected, we are all the children of the Divine.  This is my personal belief.  There are consequences to every action you choose; those consequences could be pleasant or painful.  Let’s talk about pain shall we?  One of my biggest gripes about the whole “harm none” thought.

How exactly do you intend to get through life without harming anyone?  Do you believe criminals should serve jail time and pay restitution?  Yes, well then you are part of a system that harms criminals everyday.  Those people in those cells are treated to a great deal of harm but our society says it’s an okay harm because it’s for the greater good. 

So do you side with “Harm None” or is it okay to harm some?  Right out of the gate the ambiguity of the tenant causes philosophical conundrums.  What is harm?  Is any level of harm okay?  What is the acceptable level of harm? Is harm to preserve the greater good okay?  Does it apply to animals as well?  What about cockroaches?  If I forget to water my forget-me-nots and they die did I break the tenant?  I had to kill the black widow that could have killed my child, didn’t I? Wow for a religion that is supposed to be without the guilt of Catholicism I’m sure having a lot of guilty feelings. 

If a boss wrongfully fires an employee and the court system can’t help the injured party; why would it have been okay for a court to order him harmed through financial means but it not be okay to put a hex on him to reveal his unfair business practices.  I could make an argument that the hex would actually be getting off light.

You have a friend at school whose parents don’t allow her to wear shorts but her gym teacher will fail her if she doesn’t wear them to class.  You give her a pair of shorts to wear but her father finds out and beats the tar out of her.  I could keep going with these examples but to make my point you can’t go through life without harming anyone. This doesn’t mean that we shouldn’t do our best to try and limit the amount of harm we do, it just means that we’re setting ourselves up for failure if we think that we can really get through life “harming none.” 

Here’s the real kicker the Wiccan who says, “I harm none,” but sits back and laughs with glee at the thought of Karma harming said person.  I’m just not even going to touch the hypocrisy here.

Let’s go back to the boss referenced above and the concept that we are all connected and everything we do to others we also do to ourselves.  Let’s look at this story from the boss’s side, he harmed the employee thereby harming himself.  Who’s to say the divine beings that are don’t want me to be the one to restore the balance by casting the hex on him?  If we are all the children of the Divine then why can we not also be instruments of the Divine?  Again nature and the Divine are not inherently good or evil they all have both to some extent. 

In summation, if you choose to live a life by the “Three-Fold Law” and “Harm None” philosophy that is certainly your choice and I will fight to the death to defend it.  Please though try to understand that it is all philosophy and subjective, put on your clothes Godiva, get off your high horse and quit harming the rest of us when you put us down or say we’re bad Pagans because we don’t follow your impossible and ambiguous moral code.  That’s all we want, honestly, just stop chastising us and we’ll leave you to do your thing.
©2014 Raven Rin’s Pagan Nest all rights reserved

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Recent Healing Work

Those of you who know me through various Pagan social networking sites and Facebook know that I have some chronic problems with my health.  Over the last ten months things have been pretty rough health wise, hence why my number of blogs and Youtube posts have been very sparse during this period of time.  I’ve been trying out different healing spells, trying to find something that works but it seems my conditions are as resistant to magickal treatment as they are to medical treatment.  Recently I found a new charm, I honestly don’t have a clue where I found it and it had no instructions with it.  I’ve been charming any beverage I drink with it and found that I was feeling slightly better whenever I drank a beverage I had worked this particular charm on. 

Here is the particular charm, if anyone knows who authored it please let me know so I can give them credit.

Spell for Good Health

Waters of Life, Waters of Love
Both on surface and above
I stir you up as a remedy
To keep my good health problem – free
Grow in power and in strength
So as you travel your course’s length
You’ll wash out all impurity
As I will, so shall it be!

Next I started charming beverages my husband and Witchlings were drinking, I’m happy to report that the results where quite positive with them.  My husband has been plagued by headaches lately, and he had a particularly nasty one that crystal therapy just wasn’t touching.   I circled my right hand over a cup of hot tea as I repeated the above charm three times.  While doing so I visualized the tea being filled with a healing blue-white light.  Within an hour his headache started to ease and within a couple of hours it was all but gone.  Our oldest Witchling had a cold around the same time so I completed the above procedure over his milk on about three occasions and his symptoms where greatly reduced.

My youngest Witchling and I had some different/interesting results.  My youngest Witchling has been battling “ear infections” pretty much nonstop since February.  I’ve tried charming his drinks but his symptoms have not abated.  I think I understand the reason for this.  We took him to an ENT and discovered he probably didn’t have a single ear infection, his ear canals aren’t developed enough to drain the fluid built up in his ears and he’s in need of tubes not antibiotics as there is no actual infection present.  So how does this pertain to the spell?  Though the spell isn’t specific to ear infections my thoughts and intentions were focused on giving him relief from ear infections, since he didn’t actually have them I was misguiding the spell.   Lesson to me; don’t try to guide the spell to where I think the problem is, let it be guided by the recipient’s body and the Goddess.

My experience thus far with the charm has been interesting.  The line “So as you travel your course’s length,” makes me visualize the magick traveling through the digestive track, then being distributed through the body like the energy of our food is, and ultimately all of our “impurities” being voided in the bathroom.  Unbeknownst to me, at the time I began working this spell I had developed a massive kidney stone in my right kidney.  The first couple of days I’d feel better after having a charmed drink.  In my body’s attempt to flush out all impurities, my impurity (a kidney stone too large to be passed naturally by any human) became lodged in my right ureter.  My body was still trying to flush out impurities but because of the blockage there was nowhere for them to go except to backup into my kidney.  Fortunately the Goddess gave me the good intuition to know that it was time to go to the emergency room, NOW.  My ureter and kidney were swollen and backed up with waste, but I had made it to the hospital just in time to have emergency surgery and avoid what could have been a quite horrific outcome.

I’m now recovering from my surgery and have a ureter stent in for two weeks, which is extremely painful.  Right now I’m still using the above charm, as I know that I don’t have any other kidney stones at the moment.  I’m also doing crystal therapy on myself and the combination of the two is really helping with the pain, it’s not gone but it is tolerable now without pain medication as long as I keep my activity very limited.

We learn by doing, and I’m learning a lot every time I work healing magick on others and myself.  During the middle of the month I’ll be attending a local Intuitive Workshop, the guest will be a folk healer and I’m hoping that I’ll learn a lot from her and all of the other healers there.  No matter how long we walk the path of the Craft there is always something new we can learn. 

)O( Blessings Witches )O(

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Pagans' Need for Wilderness Survival Skills

As practioners of a nature based faith most of us enjoy spending our time in the great outdoors and will take the opportunity to practice our rites in the wilderness.  Despite our love of the forest I never hear Pagans talk about how to properly prepare for these treks nor do I hear them talk about survival skills.  Perhaps it’s because I grew up with a father in search and rescue that I think this is such an important and under stressed topic.  Every year in our country over 1,000 hikers go missing in just our national parks alone.  The total number of hikers that go missing over the entire nation each year is hard to pinpoint, but it’s safe to say it’s in the low thousands.  Where most lost hikers get into trouble is that they weren’t prepared and didn’t know the first thing about what to do once they became lost or injured. 

Warmer weather is slowly coming to the northeast and as we Pagans begin to stir with the budding of the trees it is an apt time for us to discuss this topic.  While this blog post can by no means be considered a comprehensive guide on the topic it is a starting point with basic tips and information.  Keep in mind that the information I’m giving applies to wooded areas such as can be found in northwestern Pennsylvania and while some survival tips are good anywhere others are specific to this kind of habitat. 

Here’s the survival scenario for this blog post, you decided that you wanted to go into the woods to perform a ritual to the Goddess.  You’re not hiking far or into a particularly dangerous area.  We’ll say you arrive at the forest at four and you plan to be home by nine.  Let’s say you hike in for about an hour and a half, give yourself an hour for the ritual, and then have an hour and a half walk back.  That leaves you an hour buffer, in case you see something amazing you want to check out, before you have to report in.

The absolute first thing anyone should do before leaving their home is tell someone where you will be going and what time you expect to be back.  It doesn’t matter if you’re in the broom closest or out, the person you choose to tell doesn’t need to know what you’re going into the woods for but they do need to know where you’re going and at what time they should expect you back.  Why is this so important?  Cell phones don’t work everywhere and chances are if you are in a heavily wooded area you’re not going to have service.  Furthermore even if the area does have service that doesn’t mean your phone won’t get wet or damaged in a fall etc. leaving you without communication.  When you are lost or injured in the woods time is of the essence.  Telling Endora that you will be back by nine helps you and them.  This way it’s not ten with Endora wondering if you’re okay and you’re not laying in the woods wondering if and when anyone will send help for you, as soon as it’s past nine Endora knows it’s time to start looking for you.  Why you tell Endora where you’re going is pretty self-evident, the first place friends and rescuers will look for you is the last place they knew you to be.

You’re still not ready to head out.  Obviously your going to take whatever tools you need for your ritual but what else should you pack up before you go?  Dress in layers, especially here in Pa the weather can start out hot during the day and then drop in the evening, even more so when you’re under the canopy of the forest.  If it’s too hot to wear extra layers make sure to take at least a long sleeve shirt with you if not also a pair of pants if you are wearing shorts. As an aside, shorts in the woods, not always the best of ideas.  Dress APPROPRIATELY for the area you will be hiking into, flip-flops are not appropriate hiking footwear, unless you’re Cody Lundin and then barefoot is always appropriate.  In addition to the right clothing you want to take at least a small first aid kit.  This can be bought premade or you can throw some bandages, disinfectant, an ace bandage, something to treat insect bites, and at least three days worth of any medications you are on into your bag.  This will at least treat the most basic problems.  Some of you are thinking, “Is she crazy?  I’m not carrying all this junk on top of my ritual supplies around with me.”  No, I’m not crazy, I’m prepared and if you ever get lost or hurt in the woods you’ll thank me for having this stuff on hand.  For those of you who are serious about being prepared I recommend you watch this video by Dave Canterbury.  If any of you are into survival skills you’ll know there’s a little bit of controversy surrounding him but the advice he gives in this video is still great info.  I’ll actually bring up some of this info later in this post.

Whatever the reason, you’re lost now in the woods, in this particular situation it’s best to stay put.  You’ve only hiked an hour and a half in so the best thing to do is stay put, because at nine someone is going to start looking for you.  Still you’ve got to keep yourself safe and warm until they get to you, which might not be until the next day because night is setting in.  Time to take stock of what you have on hand, that means your ritual tools now become survival tools.  Let’s see what’s in your bag and what we can use it for…

Athame ~ while not sharp it can still be used as a digging tool

Bowls for holding representations of the four elements ~ as long as they’re not plastic you can use them for gathering natural water and purifying it, remember to boil the water*

Cauldron ~ you can use this to contain a small fire to keep you warm

Incense ~ generally speaking bugs don’t like smoke so a few sticks of incense will keep some of them at bay

Candles ~ light source

Chalice ~ again to hold and purify water

Plate ~ as a plate or even a digging tool

Some left over muffin ~ food for yourself

Large altar clothe ~ can be used to wrap around yourself or to make a shelter

Lighter ~ while not the preferred tool for starting fires in a survival situation you use what you have on hand

*Experts do not agree on how long water must boil before it is purified, some say as soon as it comes to a rolling boil, others one minute, others three minutes, others five minutes, and still others ten minutes.  Some say it takes longer at higher altitudes than it does at lower altitudes.  Do some research and act as you deem fit.

If you’ve followed all of my advice here you should be in pretty good shape.  There are of course always other things to consider but I can’t cover them all here, such as what to do if you’re in an area that’s heavily traveled by bear.  To learn more about survival skills I recommend that you check out Les Stroud (Surviorman), watch his show and/or read his book.  Les happens to be my favorite survivalist.  Also look for classes near you, while learning from a book is all well and good hands on is generally better.  There are also plenty of survival and primitive skill blogs and Youtube pages out there.  Do some research and practice what you learn.

)O( Blessings Survival Witches )O(

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Friday, January 18, 2013

Planting by Moon Phase

I’ve got my flowerbeds pretty well established where we live now and truthfully I’ll just need to add a few annuals to the mix.  If finances allow I may set up a container lasagna garden for veggies in our back yard.  This year I want to try tending my garden by moon phase.  My great grandmother, born 1899, grew up on a farm and swore by planting crops according to moon phase.  The woman may not have had many admirable attributes, but she could certainly grow plants.  When I started researching this I figured it would be very simple and I did indeed find a simple method but I also found that there are also some more complicated tips.  The first set of tips would be what my ancestor planted by, very simple and easy for the average farmer to calculate just by looking up.  Being a busy Witch with two small Witchlings in tow, I will most likely employ this method.  I don’t use the zodiac signs in my magick and the thought of incorporating them into my gardening produces visions of me pulling out my hair before the growing season is over.  Here are the simplistic guidelines. 

Full to Waning Moon ~ plant bulbs and root crops

Dark to Waxing Moon ~ plant those plants that reseed themselves

Waxing to Full Moon ~ plant those plants that produce seedpods and berries

Downhill Slide of Waning to New Moon ~ do not plant during this period; this phase is for tasks such as weeding, pest control, etc.

For those who want a more complex/in-depth method, the following gives you tips for planting according to what sign the moon is in.  For the most effectiveness you would want to coordinate the above times with the times below.  That means the absolute best time to plant root crops would be when the moon is between full and waning and in Taurus.

Moon in Aries ~ no planting, ideal time to harvest herbs you wish to dry

Moon in Taurus ~ plant root crops and fertilize all plants

Moon in Gemini ~ no planting, harvest root crops and herbs, flowers cut now will last longer, dry flowers

Moon in Cancer ~ plant leafy crops and those that bear fruit, cut back plants to encourage growth

Moon in Leo ~ no planting, till soil, fertilize, weed, pest control

Moon in Libra ~ plant flowers, ground cover, and vines

Moon in Scorpio ~ seeds planted now will quickly germinate, prune plants to encourage growth of leaves or flower buds

Moon in Sagittarius ~ no planting, harvest, cultivate soil, cut plants back for winter

Moon in Capricorn ~ plant rhizomes, bulbs, or stalk crops (e.g. mints, celery, rhubarb), prune branches to encourage future growth

Moon in Aquarius ~ no planting, harvest crops

Moon in Pisces ~ ideal time for transplanting

Happy Gardening and Harvesting

)O( Blessings Witches )O(

Monday, November 26, 2012

Witchling's First Crystal Healing

I’ve been a Reiki for MANY years now and around that same time I started working with crystal healing.  Whatever the reason I had gotten away from crystal healing and haven’t worked with it in a few years.  Crystal healing was something I enjoyed very much but through moves, jobs, and relationships somehow my crystals got put to the side.  Some I have yet to find where they’ve been packed away.  Even in my absence from crystal healing some just never went away.  Amethyst seems to be a pretty constant companion in my life.  Over the past couple of months I’ve been feeling a pull to return to the practice and have managed to scavenge up a few of my old collection, but I’ll probably have to purchase some new ones over the next couple of months.  What a pity?!

So begins my rejourney into crystal healing.  I’ve been giving myself healing sessions and from the first one I could feel a difference.  The process is refreshing and enjoyable, though I know that there may be some less enjoyable moments as the crystals help me to work through emotional baggage and the detoxification process.  Not wanting to overload myself I’ve been doing just a laying on of crystals, soon though I will start incorporating crystal baths and crystal elixirs. 

Today was particularly exciting as my oldest Witchling got in on the crystal healing action.  He’s four and was so excited and cooperative as I gave him his own crystal healing session.  We talked about the different crystals and how they help our energy to flow right and make us feel better.  “How?” he asked.

“It’s a type of healing magick.  Is it okay if mama works some healing magick on you?”

“Yes,” he says with a wide grin.

“Why do you put them there?” (Referring to the crystals I’ve placed on a couple of his charkas.) he asks.

“That’s where they can help make your energy better.”

“Oh, okay.  Put the magick on me now, mama.”  I proceeded to do the crystal healing session.  Then at the end of the sessions he looks up at me and says, “Okay mama, you put the magick on me.”

“How do you feel?”

“Good,” he says as he giggles a bit.

“Was that fun?”

“Yes.  Put magick on brother now.”

Brother is a bit too young yet to lie still for such an activity but he’ll get his turn when he’s old enough.  Our familiar, a tabby named Freya, seems to have found her own way to enjoy the energy.  Soon as I opened the door to the room we were working in she shot in the room and right up onto the spot where we had done the healing.  She’s still laying there soaking up the energy. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Thanksgiving Coloring Pages for Witchlings

Looking for something to keep the Witchlings busy while you're slaving in the kitchen this Thursday?  I've posted an album of Thanksgiving coloring pages suitable for Witchlings on my Facebook page.  You can find them by going to Raven Rin's Pagan Nest on Facebook. Happy Thanksgiving.

 )O( Blessings Witches )O(

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Curses! A Matter of Personal Pagan Ethics

I can’t say it enough, when it comes to the Pagan Path you have to analyze the information you’ve accrued and decided for yourself what is right for you in your practice.  There have been recent events in my personal life that have caused me to ponder the topic of curses/hexcraft in conjunction with my personal compass of Pagan ethics, and I’d like to share some of my musings with you.

I’ve been criticized by readers in the best for defining terms when presenting my viewpoint.  This criticism baffles me, perhaps because I’ve got a behavioral science background with experience in experimentation and all of my experience and education has taught me to quantify and define as much as is humanly possible.  I can’t expound on something without first defining what it is I’m talking about.  I am hypothesizing that said critic was having trouble with the concept that every word has a connotative and denotative definition, for those of you who weren’t English majors that means every word has a dictionary definition and then a more “street/everyday” definition and the two don’t always match up so well.  I don’t mean to get all “that depends on what your definition of “is” is,” on you but unfortunately definitions are going to be a big part of my musings.

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a curse as the following.
1: a prayer or invocation for harm or injury to come upon one: imprecation
2: something that is cursed or accursed
3: evil or misfortune that comes as if in response to imprecation or as retribution
4: a cause of great harm or misfortune: torment

For the post part I think a majority of the Pagan community would define a curse similarly, though we might say, “the casting of a spell with the intention of bringing harm, injury or misfortune on a person or persons.”  Seems straightforward enough, right?  Not when you start thinking about things situationally. 

First let’s tackle the “harm none” from the Wiccan Rede.  I’m not a traditional Wiccan practitioner so the Rede’s more of a guideline than a rule anyway, kudos by the way if you caught the Disney reference there.  Don’t misinterpret me here, I’m NOT say you should harm anyone, I’m just saying that the concept doesn’t fit every situation if you take it in it’s strictest form.  Most Pagans believe it’s okay to fight off a potential rapist, most of us believe that criminals belong in jail, and most of us want compensation if we are wronged.  In every last one of these scenarios we are harming someone else to meet our needs, but as a society we’ve decided that these are forms of justifiable and acceptable levels of harm that can be ethically inflicted.  So really the question becomes where is the line between ethical/reasonable harm and the unethical?  There isn’t an answer to this question that works for everyone.  Even the strictest adherents of “harm none” have, at some point in their life, inflicted an amount of what they considered to be an ethical amount of harm.  Even doing the “right thing” causes harm.  Say you turn in a co-worker who’s been stealing money from the company, you are harming that co-worker and they are going to have to face misfortune and harm from your actions.  The majority though would say that this is a level of ethical and acceptable harm and I concur. 

What does this have to do with curses?  Well, what is a curse really?  If you take the definitions in the most base sense and are a strict adherent of “harm none” then any justice spell would be a curse; as would any reflection spell, or return to sender spell.  Banishment spells could be considered curses and so could employment spells.  Spells to get someone to see another person’s true negative nature could also be considered a curse.  If you think about things in this context most of us have cursed someone at one point or another during our practice.  The more I thought about it the more I thought about what I really believe a curse to be.

Back in September my family was wronged by two people, I’ve alluded to this in another blog post.  This was no “oops my bad” you’ll be fine in a week situation.  We are still dealing with the aftermath, still fighting things legally and suffering daily from these people’s actions.  This is a “big guns” situation and I felt it needed to be handled magickally in addition to the mundane actions we are taking. I’ve always been conflicted over the use of curses and what actually constitutes a curse.  On one hand I don’t want to hurt anyone but on the other hand I come from a long line of Gypsies who would have cursed you within an inch of your life for harming their family.   Ultimately, this is what I decided I believe about curses. 

~ a spell cast with the intent of causing gratuitous harm to a person or persons, i.e. the harm is disproportionately severe to the amount of harm the person has caused you or the person has not caused you harm
~ a spell cast with the intent of causing harm when a mundane solution would have been sufficient

Spelling and telling is not something I do while spells are active but to give you a glimpse of how I applied my definitions to my current situation I’ll give you the pertinent points.  Our first action was to try to handle things strictly mundanely going through appropriate channels, but their hands are tied sometimes.  We kept chipping away at mundane solutions and we’ve made enough headway to keep us from being homeless for the moment.  I decided that after two months of battling that our situation needed a shot of magickal penicillin.  I’ve done all the other bits and bobs; mundane steps, prosperity spells, spells for jobs, spells for healing.  It’s really time for something drastic in order for our family to survive.  Odin and I both agreed that this is not a situation that we can just let go and move forward it has to be resolved.  Some may consider the working I did a curse others will not, but in the end I did what I felt was ethical and necessary.   For us to survive all of the persons’ actions must be brought to light and they must be held accountable, which could ruin them.  I look at it as I looked at all “bad” behavior when I worked in mental health, they are responsible for making their choices and they have to accept the consequences of those choices, good or bad, and I am not unethical for demanding that they be held accountable.  Essentially I “cursed” them with accountability.
This line of thinking may not be for everyone, and by no means do you have to agree with me.  I simply wanted to share with you my journey of deciding for myself what a curse is and where my own ethics stand.  I encourage all of you, from time to time, to pick an aspect of what you believe in and tear it apart so that you can rebuild it in your own new understanding.

)O( Blessings Witches )O(