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Friday, January 25, 2013

Pagan Blog Posts: Week 4: Blood

There are two major misconceptions involving Witches/Pagans and Blood. Outside the Pagan community there is the belief that witches are using blood and/or sacrifice (animal or human) for evil or demonic purposes. There is this popular image of the evil witch leaning over her victim, offering them up to some devil in exchange for power or other favor.  This is often supported by depictions in Hollywood films and popular books. One of my personal favorite films, Willow, features an evil Witch/Queen hell bent on sacrificing an infant to ensure her own power. And if we look to popular works of fiction - Sleeping Beauty, Hansel & Gretel, Snow White, and quite a few other children's stories contain the evil blood thirsty witch. It's easy to see why people growing up hearing these stories and then being taught by their religious authorities as adults that witches are evil or demonic can hold such erroneous beliefs.

Then, there is the common teaching within the Pagan community that there is neither a use of blood or sacrifices being practiced by Witches or Pagans. This belief is as misplaced as the other. While sacrifice of any kind is generally limited to those paths associated with Santeria, Voodoo or other tribally/culturally related paths. The practice of using blood in rituals is not at all uncommon.

Prior to writing this, I did a small amount of research among my Facebook page followers, and found that those who stated they do not and would not were in the MAJOR Minority! In fact, of the 30+ answers I got, only ONE stated using blood in rituals was a clash of her beliefs. ALL the other answers stated that they either have or would be comfortable using blood - their own, not that of others - in their rituals, rites or other magickal workings.

Now, I can't speak for others as to HOW or WHY they do or would use blood, but I can speak for myself, so I am going to. By my beliefs Blood is THE life force. It's a physical representation of the energy which enables the body to function. Lets face it, without blood, NONE of our vital organs - brain, heart, even skin, can function properly. But, unlike our organs, our blood is vital, yet plentiful. We an even donate out blood to save the lives of others. It is literally, liquid life force. Because of this, it is perfect for times when we wish to create a strong connection between ourselves and the work we are doing.

For my own practice I have - and do - use blood when consecrating new tools, gems, or other witchy items that will be used on my altar or during ritual work. I also add a few drops of my blood to anointing oils for use in my "life cycle" rituals - initiation, dedication, re-dedications, blessings, etc. I also use it in blessings and protections spells and charms as well - like my witch's bottle. For the most part I use moon-time blood, but there are occasions when I have pricked my finger or something similar.
One of my favorite ways to use blood is in a "Self Banishing" spell where I mix a few drops of my blood in with ink or paint. The goal of my spell is to rid myself of a habit or aspect of me which I feel is negative. So I feel that including a small part of me - my blood - is only appropriate. I've done this spell in a few ways, but the point and main actions are the same.
  • Mix a few drops of blood in to my paint/ink
  • Write/Draw the habit/aspect that I mean to banish on a stone, leaf or paper.
  • Bury/Burn/Float the item. 
  • As the words diminish, so too, will the aspect I mean to rid myself of.
It's a simple spell, but effective. To me, adding a few drops of my blood to the paint symbolizes adding that part of me which is "flawed." So rather than simply using words to represent part of me, I'm physically adding myself to the mix.
I did have someone say to me that they can not - or will not - use blood in their ritual because it breaks the Rede by causing harm. Personally, I'm not Wiccan, so I don't feel bound by the Rede, and generally don't follow it. But even if I did, I couldn't imagine seeing this as causing harm. Yes, if you choose to break the skin, you are damaging the skin, but no more than you would to check your blood sugar or donate blood or anything else. In fact, I use a lancet devise from a glucose meter set to break my skin when I need a few drops.

I completely understand WHY so many books and sites state that there is no use of blood. Because stating that Witches DO use blood would simply open the gates for those on the outside to find fault. But I feel it fails those who are new to their Pagan path because it provides poor or inaccurate information. There is truth in the fact that no "real" Pagan is sacrificing children or doing blood letting on a major scale. But to simply make the statement that there is NO use of blood is simply not true. And I wish it wasn't presented this way so often. 

Regardless of your choice to, or not to, use blood in your workings, the fact remains the same - A vast many of those within the Pagan community do. It's not "Wrong" or "Evil" or even "Negative." It by no means makes them "fake" or "attention seekers." Instead it creates - for them - a strong connection between themselves and their work. To discount their practices or traditions by saying they don't exist is not only inaccurate, it's somewhat insulting. I have to say I get slightly insulted each and every time I read statements like "Real Witches don't use blood" or "No decent Pagan would include blood in their rituals." **Both of these statements came straight from popular Pagan websites - which I will not name here for obvious reasons.**

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