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The following are excerpts from The Witches' Book of the Dead, just released by Weiser Books. Check back periodically as new excerpts are featured every two weeks or so.


(August 2, 2011)
The following is an excerpt about the Queen of all Witcheries, Hekate. It's from the appendix on Deities of the Dead, which will include listings of chthonic gods and goddesses as well as their appropriate offerings.

Hekate is the Queen of all Witcheries, a powerful goddess who is the matron of magic and sorcery, guide to the dead, and a lantern to spirits seeking their way. Hekate has many facets, but has come to be known for three primary aspects: she is goddess of transitions; goddess of the moon; and queen of the night, ghosts, and shades. Hekate possesses vast chthonic power, and roams the Earth at night with a pack of red-eyed hell hounds and an entourage of departed souls. Hekate is heralded by the howl of dogs, which usually signify that the Goddess is about. In her aspect of Antea, she is the bringer of dreaded nightmares that can lead to insanity, and is so terrifying that many ancients referred to her only as "The Nameless One." She is the goddess of the dark of the moon, a keeper of the keys to the gates between life and death, able to usher souls between the worlds.

Hekate is the goddess of crossroads, always looking in three directions at the same time. Whether it is a place where three roads meet, or several, she shines her light upon the crossroads so that the spirits of the dead may choose their path, and guides and protects those souls who have made that choisssssssssssce. In ancient times, Witches and necromancers gathered at crossroads on the 30th of each month to pay homage to Hekate and to aid in releasing the earthbound dead; while on the 13th of each month, honey cakes were left in gratitude for her help. Three-headed statues of Hekate were set up at crossroads; secret rites in areas surrounded by torches were performed to appease her. Statues of Hekate carrying torches were erected in front of homes to keep evil spirits at bay. Call on Hekate for protection and mediation whenever you make contact with the dead and to ask her to help guide the souls of the recently departed.

Offerings to Hekate: Hekatean priestess and owner of Good Mojo Tattoo Parlor Mulysa Mayhem shared these offerings with me: fish, garlic, millet, honey cakes; waste products and garbage (left at the crossroads); menstrual blood; spring water.


(August 2, 2011)
The following is an excerpt about the Soulmother of Küssnacht, a tragic story about a Witch who conjured the spirits.

The Soulmother of Küssnacht
The Soulmother of Küssnacht, a part of Switzerland, was burned at the stake in 1577. For the thirteen years prior, the Soulmother, whose real name has been lost in the tides of history, was a professional spirit medium who read for people far and wide. Often, when a person died, those left behind would pay a visit to the Soulmother—quite literally, for her trade was apparently rather lucrative. Visitors would stay at a nearby boarding house (owned by a friend of the Soulmother), implying that the seer's reputation extended far beyond her village. The Soulmother mixed both Christian and Witchcraft symbolism to summon the dead. She would draw a magic circle and invoke the sacrifice of Jesus. Then, the spirits of the dead were said to appear, and the Soulmother would share their wisdom with her well-paying clients. Finally, the priests of Küssnacht, probably fed up with the spiritual competition, complained to the local bishop that the Soulmother was practicing Witchcraft. The bishop later referred her to the court of Schwyz, where she was tortured into confessing to the crime of Witchcraft, found guilty, and then burned alive. While the Soulmother probably didn't see herself as the devil-worshipping style of "Witch" that lived only in the fantasies of the Witch hunters, this story shows how mediumship and Witchcraft were perceived by the authorities to be one and the same.


(August 2, 2011)
The following is the behind-the-scenes on my appearance with my Witch sister Kelly Spangler on The Travel Channel's Ghost Adventures, where we not only proved the existence of spirits, but that magic really works!

Ghost Adventures
In late 2010, my friend and paranormal author Jeff Belanger invited me to perform a spirit blessing ritual for an episode of Ghost Adventures set to air in February 2011. I had never seen the show, but it was my coven sister Kelly Spangler’s favorite, and since she is a powerful spirit medium, I invited her to go along. The choice of sites was between the Witch House and a local restaurant that I really didn’t want to film at because, however many times I had brought TV crews to their location, the owner and staff had always told me they didn’t like the “kind of tourists” that my publicity attracted, and so I saw no reason to go somewhere that wouldn’t appreciate my work. After seeing what had shown up at the Witch House during the show Dead Famous, I felt that it was a much more interesting site with much more potential for paranormal phenomena. There was just one tiny problem: the restaurant had a longstanding association with the spirit of Witch Trials victim Bridget Bishop which meant that the restaurant’s segment of the show might actually get as much activity as the one filmed at the Witch House. This would not do at all.

Kelly and I showed up at the Witch House with my favorite tricks of the trade: Robert the skull, the yew wand, the bronze dagger, the jar of honey, a chalice of libation, my Anubis spirit rattle, and a medical lancet to draw blood. The manager of the historic building told us that the hosts of the show were already locked inside, so we waited for one of the producers to come around to let us in. While we were waiting, I looked at Kelly and said, “This will be the only place they will get anything.” I pointed my right hand in the direction of the restaurant and said “Bridget, I ask that you give them no audience this night. Give them no show at all. Depart from that place and let them discover nothing!” Yeah, it was catty, but I didn’t want anyone, living or dead, to steal the spotlight from the Witch House.

The producer let us in and we met the hunky paranormal investigators that host the show: Zak Bagans, Nick Groff, and Aaron Goodwin. Being locked in a house with them was hardly what I would call work. Kelly and I set up a temporary altar of the dead, complete with fake candles and no incense—for this was a very old historic home and nobody wanted to chance a fire. Our hosts brought out a variety of strange equipment including a PX box, which converts electromagnetic fields into one of over 2,000 words that sound like they came out of an old Speak & Spell, giving voice to the dead, and a “spirit box,” a tool that allows the spirits to communicate by traversing through a spectrum of radio waves. The team mentioned recording some strong activity on the second floor, but their machines really started to get going once we arrived. Real Witches are magnets for the dead. We proceeded with our necromantic blessing, knowing that when you perform the proper steps, the spirits will come forth. We went into a visionary state and I made an offering of three drops of my blood. No sooner had I done so than the PX machine went really wild, spewing out a torrent of words and, in particular, repeating the word “apple” several times. I was elated that such a timeless ritual would continue to produce such dramatic results.

Once Kelly and I had blessed the space, I then called Zak, Nick, and Aaron up to the altar, each in their turn, to place their right hand upon Robert and declare themselves creatures of spirit, equal to, and able to protect themselves from, anything they might encounter. We were only supposed to be there for this initial blessing, but they were getting so much activity from their machines that they decided to keep us for the remainder of the filming. Kelly and I continued to channel the flow of the Death Current that the spirits of the place would come through. The team began to listen for voices on the spirit box. It was incredible. So many different energies seemed present, but one, a woman’s voice, rose above the din of the rest. The voice called out the name name of Robert the skull (so Shawn was right about what his name was) and then called out my full name. I’m still a skeptic after all these years, and so this just blew me away. Then the team asked for the name of the spirit. The spirit replied with a first name. They then asked for the last name. Again, a reply came. The full name of the spirit present was Bridget Bishop. The PX machine saying “apple” made much more sense now. Bridget Bishop once owned an apple orchard in Salem on the site where the restaurant now stands. That she came that night to the Witch House, a place her spirit had never been associated with in the past, proved the power of the magic I did before entering the building.

Kelly and I didn’t know quite how to tell the team that we had done a little hocus pocus to ask Bridget to leave the restaurant so that the film crew would find nothing there. And we certainly had no idea that she’d be joining the spirits already present at the Witch House that night! When we finally got to see the show, very little happened in the second lockdown at the restaurant. In fact, the only voice to appear on the ghost box was “Mary,” so my spell to draw Bridget away from the site worked like a charm and made for quite a spectacular experience. This has definitely become one of my favorite stories of the powers of spirit conjuration. It not only proved the existence of the dead, but the existence of magic as well!