Traditional (pre-Gardner) British Witchcraft: Casting the Dancing Floor

Here is another reproduction from the Simon Goodman collection, which may or may not be interesting or useful. But at least it’s out there, not slowly succumbing to oxidation within a library vault 🙂 As with the last post, I am unsure of the claim for this ritual to stem from the “Middle 1800’s”. This is mainly because of the Triple Goddess motif within it, something that most modern scholars would say was not at all very common back then.

This ritual, like others which I will get around to reproducing eventually, stem from a well known magical writer who discovered a village somewhere in the UK where old pagan rituals and customs were still practised by the populace. Indeed, the village society itself was pagan and organised around the pagan year and customs. At the time the notes were gathered (mid-late 80s), the village’s pagan ways were dying and in decline. In order to preserve their basic beliefs and practices, the village elders authorised limited exposure of their beliefs and customs to magical folk. Hence these notes which are from a secret workshop for pagan leaders led by the magical writer involved with the village.

Now of course, sceptical or suspicious folk like me will be thinking of stories like the Wicker Man, Children of the Stones and Greenmantle – such is appeal of the theme of a pagan/magical village holding on to ways both ancient and arcane amidst a corrupt and magic-less modern world. I think there was even a Dr Who episode that incorporated it. Ever since I first read this material, which is very interesting in any by itself, I have not quite accepted its veracity and not quite rejected it. This is mainly due to the standing and reputation of the magical writer in question. I do find the whole village thing a bit hard to swallow, especially when we remember this has been used before by several writers to frame modern creations as traditional material (West Country Wicca by one time Perth resident ‘Rhiannon Ryall‘ comes immediately to mind). But, ‘true’ or not, the rituals themselves and the description of the pagan nature of the village are wonderful. Enjoy 🙂

I have kept as much as possible to the layout in the original document.

CASTING THE DANCING FLOOR Middle 1800’s.

MAIDEN    WIFE     HAG

BROOM    CUP    TORCH

All approach the place in single file, walking through the wood, singing and chanting. The sacred three at last.

When the place is reached, all make a circle with MAIDEN, WIFE AND HAG in centre, each carrying their symbol.

They dance around the circle once, then WIFE and HAG stand in the centre while MAIDEN goes to the NORTH holding BROOM in both hands over her head. She bows, then starting at NORTH, she sweeps out from the centre to outer circle.

MAIDEN AT EAST:

Out, out, all Laziness and sloth

Out, out, all Untidiness and dirt.

MAIDEN AT SOUTH

Out, out, all  Harsh words and wrath.

Out, out, all  Hatred and envy.

MAIDEN AT WEST

Out, out, all Shyness and lies.

Out, out, all Falseness and wiles.

MAIDEN AT NORTH

Out, out, all Bareness and death.

Out, out, all Evil and decay.

Returns to centre.

WIFE with CUP goes to Altar and bows. Fills CUP with Pure water and Salt. Starts at North and goes to EAST.

WIFE AT EAST

Fill up, fill up With energy and breath.

Fill up, fill up  With cleanliness and care.

FLINGS WATER

WIFE AT SOUTH

Fill up, fill up With sweet words of love.

Fill up, fill up With friendship and joy.

FLINGS WATER

WIFE AT WEST

Fill up, fill up With clear sight and truth.

Fill up, fill up With courage and good heart.

FLINGS WATER

WIFE AT NORTH

Fill up, fill up With fertile life.

Fill up, fill up With goodness and rebirth.

FLINGS WATER

HAG with TORCH goes to NORTH and bows. Waves FIRE over NORTH, moves to EAST.

HAG  AT EAST

Be charged, be charged with Light and life.

Be charged, be charged with Lusty vigour.

WAVES FIRE OVER EAST.

HAG AT SOUTH

Be charged, be charged with Dance and music.

Be charged, be charged with Wine and ale.

WAVES FIRE OVER SOUTH.

HAG AT WEST

Be charged, be charged with Harmony and gladness.

Be charged, be charged with Song and mirth.

WAVES FIRE OVER WEST.

HAG AT NORTH

Be charged, be charged with Eternal happiness.

Be charged, be charged with Eternal life.

WAVES FIRE OVER NORTH.

Returns to circle.

HAG and MAIDEN make arch with BROOM and TORCH

WIFE waits with CUP – (now refilled with Wine.)

WIFE (Beckons to FIRST MAN)

Welcome Sirrah with a kiss!

He drinks, kisses her, then between them they bring all others into circle.


2 comments

  1. Mam Adar · March 8, 2011

    That is from the 1850s, yes.

    And I am Marie of Roumania.

  2. Pingback: Medieval Pagan-Hermetic Initiation and Tradition « Magic of the Ordinary

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