the source of witches power.
In ancient times in Thessaly a region north Greece the mountain-girt plains yielded grain, horse and cattle lived a group of witches who were moon watchers, and herbalists.
The ancient witches of Thessaly (1st through the third centuries BCE) included Aglaonike a natural philosopher (c 200 BC) mastered the art of predicting lunar eclipses and the Crone Erichtho who is said to summon a spirit to speak to know the future of Sextus, a Roman.
Aglaonike could have had knowledge that the Moon has a nineteen year cycle, at the end of which the New Moon occurs on the same day of the year (Metonic Cycle). She probably followed the schedule so exact that once the general length were known she could predict the lunar eclipse; when the Earth stands between the Sun and Moon, casting it's shadow on the Moon and thus hiding it.
The Crone of Thessaly, Erichtho was ordered to expel a spirit from the grave. Sextus, the son of Pomey (106-48 BC), wanted to know his future. By the light of the Full Moon, he and a few trusted companions wandered among the broken graves and crumbling sepulchres until they found the withered crone, collecting magical herbs, chanting.
"You have the power to divulge the fates of man. I pray you exercise the gift and tell me what's to come; extort this secret from the gods, or force the dead to confess what thy know," he said.
The Crone of Thessaly, Erchtho, told him she could, but would not alter the hands of time to break the eternal chain of cause and consequences. She would agree to tell him only a foreknowledge of events to come. She walked through the graveyard examining one by one the bodies of the unburied dead. She selected the corpse of one newly deceased, and whose origins of speech had sustained no wounds.
Sextus and his companions stood trembling in terror, with eyes fixed on the ground.
Erichton spoke to her guests. "Lay aside," she said, "your vainly- conceived terrors! You shall behold only a living and a human figure, whose accent you may listen to with perfect security."
She prepared the dead body for the ritual. At lengths she chanted her incantation to the Magi, the Gods and Hecate; the goddess ruler of the underworld, the queen of the witches for life and death to mingle and combine at once. She did not ask for a ghost, but a spirit of a solider of the great Pompey. Saying this, the corpse sat erect, and admired his limp limbs, enraged he had not been given the privilege to pass over.
Erichtho reassured the spirit if he told her what she needed to know, with a full and articulate voice, he would never again be summoned to the realm of the mortal living.
The soldier told her the names to things and gave places a clear designation. Satisfied with the information the Crone of Thessaly used sacred herbs, wood and more magic, to build a funeral pyre. The spirit placed on the pyre, Erichtho applied the torch and the body burned ending the charm forever.
Footnote- Witches by Olga Hoyt-Chapter Habits of Witches Publisher Abelard-Shuman London * New York * Toronto Rhys, Ernest.ed (1859-1946) The Haunters and the Haunted 1921
Published in the Oracle e-zine - Janurary 2010 http://globalgoddess.org