A Blood Witch's Initiation


The Dark Baptism

While European traditional witchcraft practices, such as the ‘dark baptism’—performed at a witches’ sabbath—or coven gathering, is an important part of history, the witch trials and ‘burning times’ in Scotland during the sixteenth and seventeenth century, these traditions and rituals are relevant in the present time and have been a crucial part of my bloodline’s craft for centuries. Ceremonial practices such as these—commonly performed by a traditional blood witch, Satanic witch or their coven—are highly controversial and severely intense, but are also a proclamation of raging femininity and the conquering of patriarchal control. 

“Demonologically-themed witch-records commonly describe witches’ sabbaths . . . at which the demonic pact and sexual relations with the Devil were performed . . . Witches in the Auldern region formed covens which periodically met in the presence of the Devil at the quarters . . . there was disciplinary ritual and a hierarchy . . . the coven made obeisance to the Devil and engaged in promiscuous sex . . .”

Emma Wilby, from The Visions of Isobel Gowdie: Magic, Witchcraft and Dark Shamanism in Seventeenth-Century Scotland

Throughout my family’s history, a blood witch’s bond to the Devil is consummated through the ceremonial act of the ‘dark baptism’ during which the witch seeking initiation into our bloodline’s coven will renounce the Catholic faith and offer themselves to the Devil by spiritually surrendering body and heart. Often this ritual is performed with the interweaving of blood and sex magick throughout intercourse between the witch and their lover—one who they have chosen and intuitively understand to be an important link between themselves and our creator. The sexual and passionate force exchanged between the witch, her lover and spirit partner during this ritual binds the witch to our coven and the Devil himself. 

“I put one of my hands on the crown of my head and the other to the sole of my foot and renounced all between my two hands to the Devil . . . He marked me in the shoulder and sucked out my blood from the mark and spat it into his hand . . .

Isobel Gowdie, from The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie, Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, compiled by Robert Pitcairn

While it was said to be a common tradition throughout the history of European witchcraft that a witch would be given ‘the Devil’s mark’ during an initiation ceremony, in my family of hereditary witches—we were born with this distinct mark upon our flesh. We carry this trait without shame as a declaration of our vow to ‘live deliciously,’ if you will—that is, we have chosen to live a life of creation and magick—crafting art, passion, romance; all that is erotic, fulfilling and that which we deem sacred. We live without restriction, allowing ourselves to embrace all that the dark divine has to offer us. 

This particular chosen path is often represented poorly—or distorted entirely, implying witches of our kind seek to hurt or destroy—and yet, our only genuine desire is liberation and the ability to choose for ourselves. Our path is one that relinquishes our kind from oppression, and it has done so for centuries. 

Though not all witches believe in or worship the Devil (or even follow a darker path)—and the ‘dark baptism’ is not considered to be a common practice involved in the craft of modern-day witches—the ritual itself remains an important part of the history of European traditional witchcraft. It is a dark and primal rite representing the birth of the witch—the beauty of declaring oneself as a powerful and independent individual capable of crafting their fate through the manipulation of magick. 

I shall turn into a crow, with sorrow and sigh – and a black throw! And I’ll go in the Devil’s name, aye while I come again.

Isobel Gowdie, from The Confessions of Isobel Gowdie, Ancient Criminal Trials in Scotland, compiled by Robert Pitcairn

Effy Winter is a hereditary blood witch and descendant of the Queen of Scottish Witches. She carries on the traditions and spellwork of her witch mothers, primarily working with the Devil throughout her practice of the craft. In her spare time, Effy works as a writer for various literary publications. She is the author of Flowers of the Flesh (Rhythm & Bones Press, 2019), a collection of poetry stirred by romance and dark witchcraft.