We usually think of the dark part of the year as beginning in earnest after Samhain; however, we truly enter the darker time as the days begin to wane right after the summer solstice. Lammas, on August 1, is the first holiday of the harvest, representing the beginning of the God's underworld journey. Shadow work is frequently mistaken as Satanic, but as pagans, we understand that Satan is not even in our pantheon. What's more, it is as important to know these facets of divinity as their lighter and safer counterparts. At tough times in our lives, they are the ones we turn to.
Most are familiar with the Charge of the Goddess, but we begin this exploration of dark witchery with another Charge, that of the Dark God, created by Ann Moura and found in her Grimoire for the Green Witch.
Charge of the Dark God
Listen to the words of the Dark God, Who was of old called Dis, Hades, Osiris, Hunter and Lord of Shadows:
I am the shadow that is cast by the sun in the brightest of days. I am the reminder of sudden mortality in the midst of joyous life. I am the black velvet night where dances the stars and the planets; time everlasting, unperturbed dancer of fiery endings and new beginnings. I am the Horned Hunter, bow drawn in my hand; gathering the living with my arrows and leading the Wild Hunt. By my hand are ye lead from this life, that life may continue, for behold! My mystery lies in the movement of life energy from life unto life, for the reminder that all life feeds on life and that only through death is life found anew.
I am the strength that protects, comforts, gives solace and renewal. I am the one who stands by the Crone of Transformation, then enters her Tomb for birth through her womb. Follow my lead and find thy immortality. Together we shall laugh at the threshold of death passage as awareness awakens, and I shall embrace thee in thy last moments of life.
Remember me on dark moonless nights; look for my Rade in roiling storm clouds and the clash of bright lightning. I carry thee to the one who transforms, Dark Mother of all, releaser of strife. Sing to us thy songs in the tongues of ecstasy, for we understand the music of the soul. Blow me a kiss from the palm of thy hand when the moon is dark, and I shall smile upon thee, but no kiss shall I return; for my kiss is the final one for all mortal flesh, nepenthe to drink at the end of thy days.
While reflecting on the Dark God, you may wish to meditate on his meaning in the great cycle and in your life. You may ask him for help, or for an increased presence in your work. The following is an excerpt from Nocturnal Witchcraft by Konstantinos, and is a ritual that taps into dark magic and forces in a way that allows for quick invocation.
The Nocturnal Candle
With your sacred space created somehow, and God or Goddess invoked, pick up the black taper with your receiving (likely your left) hand.
Walk clockwise to the easternmost edge of your circle (regardless of whether it was cast or only formed as a sphere in the banishing). See, with your mind's eye, how the darkness presses against the edge of your sacred space, helping it maintain the sphere or circle. Say:
Behold the tangible ether of night, which holds in it all possibilities.
Extend your arm to touch the edge of the circle with the candle, and walk clockwise, keeping your arm extended. Imagine that the ether of night is being absorbed into the candle. You are helping this occur by using your receiving hand. However, do not try to pull the ether into yourself. Only feel the energy pulsing within the candle. While you're moving around the circle and feeling all of this, say: As I draw the power of night into this candle, I prepare to manifest my need. Return to the spot at the east where you began and pull the charged candle away from the edge of the circle. Move clockwise to your standard starting spot with your altar or table before you.
Put the taper in a candleholder. Imagine with your eyes open that it is glowing in the same way a skrying mirror would. Imagine that it is glowing with the same kind of slightly lighter darkness, if you will, that you often see within your nocturnal portal.
Imagine your need being fulfilled. See yourself already having whatever it is you're about to ask for (but do not imagine any steps that may result in having your need fulfilled).
Hold your open projecting hand in front of the candle, with your palm facing the taper.
Read or recite the spell you wrote, still imagining, with eyes open, your need fulfilled. As you read the words, begin to raise emotional energy (do so without thinking of any memories). Tense your muscles to help the energy-raising along.
Try to reach your energy peak either as you utter the last line of the spell or right after. Take a deep breath and exhale, blasting the energy out through your right hand and into the absorbing candle.
Light the wick.
Try to imagine for a moment that the flame is sending out both the absorbed essence of night and the charge that you put into the candle. But don't think of your need at this point, or any more this evening, in fact.
If you cast a circle, perform the closing, including the treat and drink. Otherwise, go and do something grounding, such as eating or having a conversation about non-mystical things.
Place the candle in a safe place where it can burn itself out.
Your need will be fulfilled.
Embracing the Dark Mother
Once you have familiarized yourself with the Dark God, you should rightly get acquainted with the Dark Mother. The perfect time to do so is during the dark moon, when She is most powerful. The dark moon occurs at the end of the lunar cycle, when it has finished waning and before the new moon crescent is visible in the sky.
Dark Moon Esbat Ritual
The following is a ritual adapted from Ann Moura's Grimoire for the Green Witch to honor the dark time of the month. You may wish to decorate your altar with black candles and scent with an incense such as copal or sandalwood.
Queen of the Night, Queen of Mystery; silent rests the tomb of passage into rebirth. All returns unto Thee, for of Thee all is born.
As [insert Goddess name] you are known to me, for this is the Moon of my Lady as Tomb and Womb; Great Creatrix who takes the remnants of life past and from these fashions life to come. Great Lady of Shadow and Wisdom, Thy face is turned from the earth, hidden in secrecy and mystery. Here now is the time of Perfect Love and Perfect Trust, for your children stand seemingly without Thy presence, and yet they know that Thou art steadfast and true, and as the turning of the Moon, is the cycle of all life continued. You with Your Lord, [insert God name], at Your side, abide in us all. So Mote It Be!
Dark Mother of All; Keeper of Wisdom, and Revealer of Mysteries, Thou who dwells within, let me never forget Thy love. For Love is the Law and Love is the Bond! So Mote It Be!
Dark Moon Mother Magical Pouch
This magical pouch idea comes from Poppy Palin's Craft of the Wild Witch and contains items dedicated to the Dark Moon Mother, the bringer of psychic sight. It can be carried with you and serves as a reminder or a commitment to such power. The bag is ideally made by hand of recycled black velvet (cut from a used garment or the like). On one side, you can paint a waning moon in silver, on the other, a personal transformative symbol, perhaps relating to the spider, can be painted. Use your instinct and judgment when deciding how to decorate and what to keep inside. Some ideas: