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The Tripartite Ways of the Poison Path

The Tripartite Ways of the Poison Path

By using the planets Venus, Saturn and Mercury we can come to a greater understanding of the forces at work within the plants that comprise the baneful herbs of the witch’s pharmacopoeia. These three planetary forces allow us to understand the nature of these botanical allies as well as the greater forces underlying the path of traditional witchcraft. We have Saturn, the Old One, an ancient and maligned agricultural deity with the oldest of origins embodying the force of the chthonic god-force, the Witch Father. Then there is Venus, the mother and seductress, both dark and light, she is the primal face of the Witch Queen. The Goddess from which all life emerges. Between these two is their shapeshifting offspring, the Mercurial Master of Ways, the Horned God and Solar Child. This triad represents a synthesis of the most primal of forces, representing one of three reoccurring aspects in the witchcraft mythos.

The plants of the green sorcerer are influenced by both the celestial rays of the planets as they dance across the sky, and also by elemental currents that manifest in their physical characteristics and chemical components.  It is the dark green-fire of the Earth, the hidden telluric currents that we seek to connect with on the Path.  It is our focus on the cthonic and creative forces of the Land and its spirits that is quintessential to this particular practice.   

The division of three forms the foundation for many of our Pagan cosmologies.  It reflects the Universal divisions of the cycles and laws of Nature-creation, sustainment, and destruction.  The creative forces of the Universe being triple in nature are reflected in the Tree of Life and the Triangle of Manifestation used by traditional witches, which is in direct correlation to the three spheres at the top of the Qabbalistic Tree of Life, also arranged in triangular fashion.   

The supernal forces at the uppermost branches of the tree correspond to Kether, Binah and Chokmah.  In the Triangle, the first and uppermost point is the entirety of the Universe, Kether, the divine source.  Binah is the void that holds all of the potential for Creation and Life.  It is the Universal Womb.  Chokmah is the active perpetuating force.  It is the impetus and spark of life that initiates creation.  Thus, the image of the Triangle of Arte holds the creative forces of the Universe.   

The triangle which is the first of the three-dimensional forms is the shape of the planetary force of Saturn, ruling manifestation and crystallization.  When exalted on the top point of the triangle it represents the Void or Source of Life.  It is the feminine sphere Binah which is balanced and supported by the male and female representations of Divinity as Mercury and Venus.  This formation can be used when the nature of the Work is celestial, outward, or spiritual in nature.  It is the upward pointing masculine triangle representing the rising flame and active principle.   

The inverted triangle puts Saturn in the lower realms.  In its cthonic aspect it represents materialization and internalization of spiritual forces, allowing us to go deep within ourselves.  Its energy moves in an earthward and inward direction.  The properties of balance and structure within this sacred shape are utilized to create a matrix of spiritual force that is contained therein, concentrating the occult forces raised within the center.  The objects or symbols placed within the points of the triangle combine to create a unique synthesis of energies. 

The threefold cosmology of ancient Pagan cultures is found in numerous settings and forms.  For example, the three cauldrons as energy centers in Celtic mythology and the divisions of Land, Sky, and Sea.  Also, the widespread cosmological divisions of Upper, Middle and Lower world systems of Norse and Germanic cultures, which have made their way into the Modern Pagan Movement as well as the Religion of Wicca.  The triangle and triple spiral represents this threefold world view and has adaptations in Solomonic magic and traditional witchcraft.  The archetypal forces Venus, Mercury, and Saturn are aligned with the currents of magic, witchcraft, and plant lore; providing powerful allies to one’s Craft.   

These three elder forces manifested in the archetypes of the corresponding planets have many things in common, including their cthonic and celestial aspects.  Their association with boundaries and liminal spaces in addition to their correlations with the otherworld and witchcraft mythos are the powerful themes expressed in this manuscript. 

These three primal forces have prominent roles in magical herbalism and the craft of the witch.  They represent the traditional core aspects of the witch’s practice as a means of discovering, integrating and utilizing their environment.  These archetypes represent the currents of occult forces which are called upon by practitioners of the Craft for advancement in the knowledge of their arte and for increased power.  Each one representing a facet of arcane practice and occult knowledge hidden in the natural realm.  Whether it be the interaction with spiritual powers present in nature or traversing the boundaries between the Upper and Lower realms for divine inspiration or ancestral wisdom.  These are the powers most closely allied with the practice of our craft, and understanding their history, mythology and nuanced connections allows us to connect with the deeper forces beyond their superficial masks.   

Atropa belladonna

The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide series seeks to explore these paths and the entities that we encounter along the way, through an investigation of these spirits and the plants that are connected to them we gain a deeper understanding of the powers available to us.  The gods and their stories are keys to unlocking the deepest forces of the natural world, and those elder spirits recognized by our earliest ancestors.  It is where these beings, through their folklore, overlap and the lines between one and the other become blurred that we are able to find the greatest insight.  It is at the intersection of spirit and myth that we learn the true essence of these changeling gods and goddesses.    

One thing these three deities of the classical pantheons have in common is their universality and their connection to magic.  Their nature is recognizable in numerous pagan pantheons and their ancient counterparts run deep into the darkest depths of history, having counterparts in ancient Sumerian and Babylonian mythology.  These spirits of the most ancient origins made their way from the black lands of Egypt, crossing the Mediterranean, and across Europe where they were reunited with their northern manifestations.  The ancient gods of Scandinavia, the British Isles and those dwelling deep in the forests of central Europe have the same roots.  Starting their journey in the Cradle of Civilization early nomadic man spread their worship across the continent where gods and goddesses of similar characteristics and names seemed to have arose independently; their common origins lost to time and memory. 

Excerpt from The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide Volume One: Book of Saturn, by Coby Michael Ward. http://poisonersapothecary.storenvy.com

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I am a practitioner of traditional witchcraft, proud armchair occultist, and cultivar of baneful herbs. I have a passion for potion-making and arcane artifacts. I love researching and writing about the history of magic, occult philosophy, and the Pagan practices of Germanic/Norse traditions and the British Isles. As a writer, I have been working for about two years, and have taught workshops on esoteric herbalism, witches’ flying ointments, and the Poison Path. I recently self-published a zine-like booklet called “The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide” a collection of baneful plant lore and witchcraft. I have been growing a Witch’s Garden for about six years consisting of various plants commonly associated with witches and sorcery. I have been studying magic and the occult for a number of years. I later decided to go to school for religious studies, which helped me with my writing. Arizona State University is where I studied religion with an emphasis on religious text and ritual. I became interested in poisonous plants and traditional European witchcraft via my studies of American Folk Magic and African American Hoodoo, which introduced me to the grimoire tradition and eventually Sabbatic Witchcraft. In my writing I look to draw new connections between ancient mythology, symbolism, astrological correspondence and traditional witchcraft practices like spirit work, herb craft and soul flight.
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Coby Michael Ward
,
I am a practitioner of traditional witchcraft, proud armchair occultist, and cultivar of baneful herbs. I have a passion for potion-making and arcane artifacts. I love researching and writing about the history of magic, occult philosophy, and the Pagan practices of Germanic/Norse traditions and the British Isles. As a writer, I have been working for about two years, and have taught workshops on esoteric herbalism, witches’ flying ointments, and the Poison Path. I recently self-published a zine-like booklet called “The Poisoner’s Pocket Guide” a collection of baneful plant lore and witchcraft. I have been growing a Witch’s Garden for about six years consisting of various plants commonly associated with witches and sorcery. I have been studying magic and the occult for a number of years. I later decided to go to school for religious studies, which helped me with my writing. Arizona State University is where I studied religion with an emphasis on religious text and ritual. I became interested in poisonous plants and traditional European witchcraft via my studies of American Folk Magic and African American Hoodoo, which introduced me to the grimoire tradition and eventually Sabbatic Witchcraft. In my writing I look to draw new connections between ancient mythology, symbolism, astrological correspondence and traditional witchcraft practices like spirit work, herb craft and soul flight.

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