Blood

PaganGreen Pagan Witches

blood Called the “river of life,” blood is identified
with the soul and is the vehicle that carries the vital
energy of the universe through the body. In magic,
blood is revered and feared for the miraculous power it
possesses and confers. Blood that is let is believed to
unleash power: sacrificial blood scattered on the earth
regenerates the crops. Animals, fowl and humans are
sacrificed in religious and some magical rites (see sacrifice).
The blood of executed criminals is said to be a
powerful protector against disease and bad luck, because
of the energy of resentment and fury that is released
upon execution.
Blood is used to bind oaths and brotherhood, either by
mingling or in signing. Blood oaths are considered inviolate.
According to lore, Devil’s pacts are always signed in
blood (see Devil’s pact).
In folklore, the magical power of witches is neutralized
or destroyed by burning their blood in fires—hence
the common European method of execution by burning at
the stake—or a practice called “blooding.” Witches were
“scored above the breath” (cut above the mouth and nose)
and allowed to bleed, sometimes to death. Shakespeare
made use of the blooding custom in Part I of King Henry
VI, when Talbot sees Joan of Arc:
Devil, or devil’s dam, I’ll conjure thee;
Blood will I draw from thee, thou art a witch,
And straightway give thou soul to him thou serv’st.
A few drops of blood of a person used in magical
charms and spells, sprinkled in potions and witch
bottles or on effigies, is said to give a witch or magician
power over that person, in the same manner as do
hair and nail clippings. Animal blood also is used in folk
blood 27
charms and spells. The blood of a black cat is said to cure
pneumonia.
Menstrual blood. Menstrual blood is particularly potent
and is sacred to the Goddess. Menstrual flow is linked to
the phases of the Moon. The blood of the Goddess, also
called “wine,” “milk,” “mead” and “wise blood,” appears
universally in mythologies; it is drunk for wisdom, fertility,
regeneration and immortality. The menstrual blood
of the Goddess is valued as a healing charm. The blood of
Iris, symbolized in an ambrosia drink, conferred divinity
on pharaohs. According to Taoism, red yin juice, as
menstrual blood was called, confers long life or immortality.
A pagan custom that has survived Christianity is
the carrying of seeds to the field in a cloth stained with
menstrual blood. In some shamanic cultures, menstrual
periods are said to be accompanied by prophetic dreams
that guide the shamaness-to-be to her path of power.
In patriarchies, such as Christianity and Judaism, men
traditionally feared menstrual blood, which was associated
with uncleanliness and evil. Contact with menstrual
blood, or even being in the presence of a menstruating
woman was considered dangerous, even fatal. In some
societies, menstruating women are still shunned or isolated,
lest they pollute the earth and harm others with
their blood. In the first century, ancient Romans believed
the touch of a menstruating woman could blunt knives,
blast fruit (see blasting), sour wine, rust iron and cloud
mirrors.
In the Old Testament, Leviticus 18:19 states, “You
shall not come near a woman while she is impure by her
uncleanliness to uncover her nakedness.” In orthodox Judaism,
the Talmud specifies that husband and wife are to
be sexually separated, and sleep in different beds, for 12
days a month (an average of five days for menstruation,
followed by seven “clean days” to make sure the woman is
free of every drop of pollutant). Sex may be resumed after
a ritual bath, called a mikveh, in which the woman is to
scrub every part of her body. It is still the custom among
some orthodox Jews not to shake hands with a woman,
lest she be menstruating, and never to use the same wash
water as a woman, for the same reason.
In Christianity, menstrual blood has been similarly
scorned and feared. Early church scholars shamed
women for their uncleanliness. At various times, up to
the late 17th century, menstruating women were forbidden
to partake in communion, or in some cases, even to
enter church. Menstrual blood was believed to spawn
demons. Some factions within the Catholic Church continue
to believe menstruating women would defile an altar,
one reason why they should not be admitted into the
priesthood.
In some magical ceremonies, menstruating women
are barred from participation, because it is believed their
flux interferes with the raising of psychic power and the
effectiveness of spells.
In folk magic, menstrual blood is believed to be a
powerful ingredient in love philtres and charms. A few
drops of menstrual blood mixed in a man’s meal supposedly
will secure his undying love. Conversely, menstrual
blood also is used in charms to cause impotency.