A ritual working with The Forty Servants, focusing on The Witch as intermediary for the entire system.
Invocation of The Witch Enodia
I am the Queen
of earth and sky and sea
lady of the crossroads:
and patron of the restless dead.
Call me Polyonymous
and through me,
authority over all.
I've been working with The Forty Servants for a while now, my approach might be considered a little dissimilar to the standard approach. I see an entire magical system unfolding from these cards. We have a system for divination, we have spirits to call on: summon or invoke, with their own seals and characters. There are layers of syncretism already built in, and many more waiting to be layered on and explored by the intrepid.
One thing that I have not done is the Intitiation Ritual or The 40 Day Ritual. Initially I hadn't felt a need to do so. I leapt right in, finding ways to integrate the Servants into my practice (I have a candle on my altar: Flame of the Ancestors, lit each day in honor of my dead on which I carve the sigil of The Dead; my temple candles -- large 3 wick pillars, have several sigils carved into each). From the beginning, I saw The Forty Servants as a system, a toolset something like the Solomonic grimoires but with a modern mindset that was entirely more accessible to any magician.
Recently, in the Forty Servants Facebook group, a member remarked on her experience using The Witch as intermediary for the Initiation Ritual instead of The Saint. This suggestion apparently came from Tommie Kelly in a round about way. He suggested "hanging out with The Witch". I don't remember which post grabbed my attention, but one of them did. For some reason, The Witch had been flying under my radar. Even though I featured her image in my interview with Tommie Kelly and had the deck in my possession for a while (8 months or so), I had yet to interact with or much consider her.
At the same time, I have been heavily indulging in the study of the Greek Magical Papyri or PGM ('...a name given by scholars to a body of papyri from the Greco-Roman Egypt period containing a variety of magical spells and formulae, hymns and rituals. The extant texts are mainly from the second century B.C. to the fifth century A.D.' From the introduction to The Greek Magical Papyri in Translation, Hans Dieter Betz). In the course of my studies, I came across the wonderful blog Voces Magicae. One of the articles there discusses PGM IV 2708-2784 (for those unfamiliar, this refers to Papyrus IV, lines 2708-2784, a discreet section or 'spell' from the collection), which is entitled by the translators: 'Another love spell of attraction'. The blog author, in his article, skillfully de-constucts this spell (apparently doing his own translation from a previously published translation; yes, I know this all gets so very circuitous.) and points out that the "lust spell" part of it appears to be tacked into place and could very easily be replaced with just about any working that the magician desired. What is truly important about these lines are what surrounds them: a three part invocation of Hekate that frames the spell.
Few deities have forged the intimate link with magicians, witches and magical practitioners that Hekate has in her various manifestations. As the bonafide patroness of magic and witchcraft and goddess of liminality, Hekate has represented and embodied the sacred mysteries and arcane arts for millennia. -- Leonardo Drakon, Voces Magicae
My own relationship with Hekate goes back to childhood. Finding Her, again and again as I journey through this life seems entirely appropriate. And finding Her here, in this collection of magical spells that speaks to me so viscerally because of the roots and evolution of my own spiritual and magical path, was quite a revelation. It feels like coming home.
Being the syncretist I am, these threads started to weave together in my head. The Grimoire of the Forty Servants tells us that The Witch is good for introducing us to spirits of place, and further that she is good for basically everything involving magic, even teaching us magic. The Witch is not Hekate, but Hekate is a witch, indeed a Queen of Witches. And does not the image of The Witch evoke Marie Laveau, queen of New Orleans Voodoo? Clearly there is a relationship here, a confluence of ideas, overlapping realms of authority. There is no torch visible on the card of The Witch, but if you are afforded a glimpse around her realm, I can virtually gurantee you will find one.
Seasons of the Witch
I'm going to present my concepts for a method of working with The Forty Servants that involves using The Witch servant as both intermediary and a voice of authority. Both of these concepts have sigificant historical precendce in magic (see the Solomonic Tradition and the PGM), where the magician invokes an intermediary spirit or calls upon the authority of a greater entity (most often a god or prophet) to assert their own will over spirits (servitors in the case of The Forty Servants).
The Servants already have an 'official' intermediary in The Saint. So, why The Witch and why this expanded concept of authority? Not everyone is comfortable with The Saint; though we have seen some resurgence of folk Catholicism through the work of disparate magicians and authors, anything that relates to Catholicism or Christianity still seems anathema to many witches and magicians. And though the concept of authority over spirits might smack of the same traditions that gave birth to the Solomonic systems (that many modern witches and magicians also take issue with, namely the 'binding and bullying' that these methods employ), a little research and study shows that this concept goes back even further and the approach has not always been seen as adverserial.
A secondary consideration, though not one of mine but that I have seen expressed, lays in the belief or idea that The Servants might somehow 'get out of control'. Interacting with The Servants following these methods will virtually ensure that they will never 'get out of control'.
Using this method does require that the magician already have or establish a relationship with the divinity: Hekate. I could list the various reasons why I think this is a good idea completely divorced from the subject of this article, but then I'd be robbing the reader of the chance to find out for themself. Poor scholarship is the bane of any practicing magician.
Even if you do not work with the Servants, you can use parts of the information presented to establish a relationship with Hekate. But if you do wok with the Servants, you will take this relationship a step further and form for yourself a link between Hekate and The Witch and then use The Witch in your ongoing work with The Servants.
Hanging out with Hekate
The first step is to familiarize yourself with Hekate. There are abundant resources available to assist you in your work. I heeartily recommend this article here at Voces Magicae as a fundamental resource, Leonardo's analysis of Hekate in the PGM is excellent.
If you can, establish an altar to Hekate or arrange part of your altar to Her. Make regular offerings to Her. This article from wikipedia on The Deipnon is full of resources. Enodia is one of Hekate's epithets, it means "of the crossroads" and She was often offered to at three-way crossroads in particular. One might think that these crossroads might be hard to come by, but the ancient Greek practice of having a shrine to Hekate at the entrance to one's home is a perfect one to employ: we all have a three-way crossroads ready built where our doors or driveways intersect with the street. On the night of the dark of the moon, leave an offering of milk and honey or incense there.
This incense is not required for these workings, but I recommend it.
4 Parts Myrrh
2 Parts Benzoin Sumatra
2 Parts Storax Bark
2 Parts Sandalwood
1 Part Labdanum
1 Part Lavender
2 Parts Myrrh
1/2 Part Lavender