“Art thou willing to suffer to learn?” and ritual scourging in the Alexandrian Craft: when it is common practice and when it’s abuse.

Among the things I was frequently reminded of, while at my former coven, was that we had taken oath by which we were willing to suffer in order to learn. This question is standard procedure in an Alexandrian (and Gardnerian) initiations.

Initiation catalyses a radical metaphysical process of changes in a person, often unexpected and suffered through circumstances we seem to conspire so that it can happen. It’s that kind of change which we would not normally opt for if given an overt choice, but nevertheless by stating that we come into Circle in perfect love and perfect trust, embrace it willingly, even though it means stepping into the unknown.

So far, so good. If your teacher talks to you about suffering, about learning harsh lessons after initiation, he or she is doing their job. They are letting you know that you are about to embark in your darkest night of the soul. There is great wisdom to be learnt from suffering. Also remember that the greatest poets and artists of all time were inspired some of the greatest masterpieces of all time because of it. It opens your Soul to awareness about the Self and all reality that surrounds us in the most exceptional way.

A good teacher will step back and let you work out your own resolutions and find your own way out with your resources alone.

However, beware!!! They should never inflict suffering on a student by making themselves judges of how much is enough, nor they should taunt and rub salt in open wounds when stepping back.

While it’s true that the Craft is not for the weak, the Craft is neither some sort of ascetic monastic order that verges on sado-masochism.

A teacher that gives frequent reminders that we must be willing to suffer in order to learn and uses scourging as a mean to cause it, is an individual in a permanent miserable state of mind and likely to be a sadistic emotional parasite draining you out of vital energy in the bid to overpower you.

Remember, within a Magic Circle the scourge is a symbol of dominion. Remember also that in the Charge the Goddess says, “nor do I demand sacrifice”, therefore you are not obliged to submit to the scourge, save specific occasions which can be easily found in the Book of Shadows, and most of which do not pertain 1*s. As the word of a teacher, High Priest or High Priestess, ‘is Law’ within a Circle, to make such demand in that time and place is to trap the other initiate in a no win situation. It is an abuse of power, an abuse of the perfect trust given and an unlawful act of controlling someone else’s will by stealth.

This person doesn’t want you to progress and develop your own power and will. This person wants you caged in permanent troubles and sorrow, so that your mind will eventually be too busy dealing with your problems to see what’s going on and react.

As you weaken and start getting things wrong and making mistakes, he or she will increase the dose by getting angry at you, blaming you, making you feel stupid and inept and ridicule you in front of others. You might not be alone in this, and might notice that it seems others are also being picked on the same way, usually when it’s not happening to you. To add confusion, he or she might follow it up with a magnanimous comment that if only you showed more humility you’d have such potential. As the nasty attention gradually shifts on to someone else, you might notice that you suddenly begin to incur in your teacher’s favour and that you are being offered some extra and exclusive training. Careful!!! You are being drawn in a false sense of security and self-doubt. This person wants you to disconnect with your own self so that you’re under control, but it would be no use if he or she would stand to lose you. The point here is that you need to have a cause to raise your hopes up whilst doubting your own perceptions. Teachers as such are usually inconsistent with their criticism. You might have been rebuked badly for something that you did/did not do, then you might see another person do exactly what got you into trouble only to be ignored, if not praised!!! Moreover, after a period of serenity, the target might be moved once more onto you. Be observant of patterns and inconsistencies. For your own benefit and sanity, keep an accurate record of it in your magical journal. Make sure to write regularly once a day, even if just a short paragraph but don’t share it with anyone else. This is your private reference book. Hopefully, you should never need it but should you find yourself being gaslighted, being observant and recording what goes on and what’s being said will help you stay whole and grounded in truth.

Never underestimate the power of the use of magical weapons in the hands of an experienced practitioner. Not all that start as a proper person remain such, a 3* is no exception. And magical weapons are exactly that. They are there to cause the will of the user in whose hands they’re in, to manifest. It is especially true for a scourge striking an object or person.

Take note of the movement being used: is it a circular motion or as an ∞ ?

You will likely be taught that one of the ritual uses of the scourge is to gain the sight. That is only partially correct. There are far more effective ways which do not involve humiliation techniques, such as meditation and visualisation. During the ritual scourging, the initiate is bound with a red cord, as at initiation and made to kneel with the Pentacle directly in front of the eyes, as with a scrying mirror. Only that we must remember, the Pentacle is much more than a mere scrying mirror. It is the tool of manifestation. It’s Earth, it’s concrete and what is projected onto it will come to pass. Never, ever take these tools lightly. Never in a Magic Circle of all places.

At Initiation, the Pentacle serves to cast the willful intention of both initiator and postulant to initiate. When this is done successfully, we say that initiation has ‘taken’.

But to gain the sight, the appropriate tool is either a scrying bowl or mirror. If there’s a Pentacle in front of you, you should at the very least ask yourself : why?

Are you performing a spell where by the catalyst of the scourge, you are intending to project and concretise your visualised will onto the Pentacle? If not, who is?

A spell as such would employ the circular motion of the scourge, which would hit lightly but in a monotonous way, such to stimulate the Kundalini and stir the serpent of the unconscious.

However, should the motion be as  , you must consider that this symbol of infinity is also a symbol of return, re-generation and polarised exchange, like a water filter of a pond. Where is your will seated in your subconscious going? Who is receiving it? What are they doing to it before sending it back for you to project it? Or what are they substituting it with? What ends up being projected on that Pentacle? A cruder but clearer metaphor would describe the process as: you’re picking up the gun, pass it to another, the other loads it with what is in their pocket, pass it back to you and you fire it, only the bullet bounces back at you every time it grounds on target before you pass the gun again for reloading.

Always remember that the scourge is dominion, and it is he or she who holds it in the hand that holds the active power as opposed to the passive warlocked generator and channel kneeling down.

When a person needs the assistance of a more strong-willed and adept individual in working magic, this can prove to be a powerful and effective method. But remember, it is always discussed thoroughly and agreed beforehand. The intent of the operation is clearly stated in Circle before commencing and certainly has nothing to do with using scourging to gain the sight.

If you are unexpectedly asked in ritual, at any other time after your initiation, “ are thou willing to suffer in order to learn”? , then know this is the favourite form of stealth attack used to gain control over someone’s will and being. The intent is in the question asked, and by replying “yes” or “I do” and allowing yourself to be bound, not only you are tricked into condemning yourself onto an ongoing trail of misery and mind control, but you also exonerate the person from blame, as YOU have given them your expressed permission to do so.


In conclusion, this is what I’ve learnt by experiencing all that I’ve described above on my own skin, at the hands of a ruthless and narcissistic bad apple, and by watching at my reflection in people that went through the same: as witches we need to develop a shrewd sense of observation and discernment. The kind of suffering entailed in the Craft brings forth change and wisdom that empowers and strengthens the individual. It annihilates one’s darkest fear and makes room for contentment and happiness despite life’s toils. It is periodical, tailored to one’s capacity at poignant times when we know to be ready for the next step of growth. Know thy craft and dare to make stand for what you know to be true.