The five types of magickal partnerships

Posted by Michelle Gruben on

Magickal partnerships are as diverse and complicated as any other human relationship.  Just for fun, here's a list of five ways that Witches and occultists can pair up.  If you work magick with another person, try seeing which category (or categories) your partnership fits into!

The Teacher and Student (Merlin and Nimue)

In this type of partnership, the experienced practitioner passes on knowledge to the eager neophyte.  They may be conveying a specific skill, like reading the runes, or an actual initiatory current.  It is generally expected for the student to offer something in exchange--dutiful attention, at least. Since initiation (formal or informal) is a part of most magickal traditions, it's likely you have experienced this type of partnership at least once.

One possible pitfall of this type of relationship is illustrated by the story of Merlin, who is captivated (and eventually betrayed) by the beautiful witch Nimue after she acquires his knowledge.  Teacher and student partnerships run the gamut from blessed to icky.  There's often an age or gender difference, but not always.

The Specialists (John Dee and Edward Kelley)

A Specialist partnership means that each of the pair has a different set of skills that they bring to the table.  Together, they make more effective magick than either could do alone.  

British mage John Dee yearned to see and speak with angels.  One of the most learned men on the planet, Dee knew magickal symbolism, mathematics, and theology inside and out.  But he wasn't very clairvoyant, so he began to seek a partner who could see visions in a crystal.  He found his accomplice in a roving scoundrel, Edward Kelley, whose wild mediumship was a perfect complement to Dee's erudition.

The magician/scryer pair is a common type of Specialist configuration, but there are others.  Maybe your partner writes beautiful, eloquent rituals, but you're more of a hands-on type.  Maybe he always does a divination before the working, while you cleanse and banish the temple afterward.  Our "learn-it-all" magickal culture sometimes disdains specialization, but there really are huge gaps in psychic talent, knowledge and experience.  Sometimes, it's just more efficient to find a buddy who knows how to do what you cannot.

The Mage and Vessel (Aleister Crowley and the Scarlet Woman)

In this configuration, one partner acts as a magician and does most of the actual magickal work.  The second person is a willing participant who lends their psychic energy and/or physical body to the working.  Aleister Crowley famously had such partnerships with a series of "Scarlet Women," female collaborators in his rites of ceremonial magick.

The most famous use of this technique is in sexual magick, where a receptive partner of either gender can "gestate" the outcome desired by the active partner.  But there are other Mage and Vessel pairings.  In channeling or possessory work, the vessel will work in a trance state, while their partner will invoke or speak to the hosted entity.  Or one partner may act as a "battery" in a working, lending neutral energy toward the will of the other.

The High Priest and Priestess (Gerald Gardner and Doreen Valiente)

Common in Wiccan practice, this type of partnership uses the polar energies of life as embodied in the Male and Female.  The High Priestess invokes or "draws down" the Goddess for rituals and workings, while the High Priest carries the energy of the God.  The High Priestess and High Priest are ostensibly equals, although their respective importance will vary across covens.  A Priest and Priestess may serve for just one ritual, or work together long term.  They usually have a symbolic (if not actual) sexual relationship. 

In British traditional Witchcraft, the High Priest and Priestess are an opposite-gender pair.  (Doreen Valiente and Gerald Gardner set up the trope, and their influence continues in Wiccan liturgy and coven structure.) The pair can do spellwork together (the energetic polarity is dynamite!), but often their magick is basically devotional.  In more contemporary Pagan groups, it is acceptable for a woman to invoke the God or a man to invoke the Goddess.

The Tag Team (Ron Weasley and Harry Potter)

This is probably the least emotionally intense kind of magickal relationship.  In a Tag Team, both partners do basically the same types of magick, but they take turns doing it.  The partners can be any age and gender, but usually have a similar level of experience. Friendly rivalry may be part of the equation.

Being on this type of team is great!  You can bounce ideas off of each other, share experiences, and help each other out when you're stumped.  You may not work magick together very often, but you can trade favors: Healing and divination magicks, for example, aren't easy to perform on yourself.

Did I miss any?  Let me know!  Also, you can read more articles here.

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