How to Become a Witch

How to Become a Witch

Below is an interesting ritual from a 1938 publication (privately published) by Manx author W. Walter Gill.

“From a Southside source, anonymous by desire, I learn that a woman who was ambitious to succeed in bespelling and charming, and all the other branches of witchcraft, would give herself to the Devil by means of the following rite. She would go at midnight to a bridge that spanned a stream of uncontaminated water, and get beneath the archway (Freemasons please note). There she threw on the water the sacramental bread that she had secreted at Holy Communion. She then undressed and washed herself, saying as the water flowed over her that she wished every trace of God and godliness to be washed away from her, and go down with the flowing water as the bread had done.”

(source: A Third Manx Scrapbook by WW Gill (1938/1963); artwork by John William Waterhouse ‘Magic Circle’)

Footnote by Awin Noo:

Gill’s title ‘How to Become a Witch’ is rather misleading as some people may think the ritual brings about instant transformation when it takes much learning, commitment and time to become an adept.


This is more of a cleansing ritual and perhaps part dedication and initiation…the releasing of the communion wafer and it’s flowing away; the washing of herself and asking that the last traces of beliefs she no longer holds are also washed away. She is cleansing herself of the old to make way for the new.


Bridges allow us to cross over and are symbolic of moving from one phase in our life to another. Here she was under the bridge, in the arms of its span, and perhaps there is acknowledgement and reference to the desire and future steps she will soon take.


And the mention of the devil?…Satan exists in the Christian tradition and, therefore, casts no shadow in the new world she is embracing.

Bernadette Weyde

Bernadette Weyde

I'm a web designer, amateur historian and keen gardener and I enjoy bringing Manx history, folklore and poetry to a modern audience.

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