“Cunning and art he did not lack
But Aye, her whistle would fetch him back…”
“O, I shall go into a hare
With sorrow and sighing and mickle care
And I shall go in the Horned One’s name
Aye, till I be fetched’ hame.”
“-Hare, take heed of a bitch greyhound
Will harry thee all these fells around,
For here come I in our Lady’s name
All but for to fetch thee hame”
-Excerpt from Midsummer’s Day Ritual found in Creating Circles and Ceremonies: Rituals for All Reasons and Seasons by Oberon and Morning Glory Zell-Ravenheart.
The ritual that the above quote is taken from consists of men and women chanting alternating verses of the chant. It details the the transformation of the participants into animals trying to escape/overtake the other. It it taken from the myth of Ceridwen and Gwion Bach.
In the myth, Gwion was forced by the Goddess to stir her potion. The potion was intended to make her ugly son Morfran wise (in order to make up for his appearance). According to the myth, the first three drops of the potion would confer this wisdom. The rest of the potion would prove fatal. While stirring, three drops of the potion splashed onto Gwion’s thumb. Of course, he immediately put his thumb in his mouth and received the power of the potion (Of course, he did, otherwise there would be no myth…). Knowing that the Goddess would be angry, Gwion fled. It didn’t take long for Cerridwen to realize what happened and in turn she chased after Gwion. To escape, Gwion used his newly received wisdom of magic to turn himself into a hare. In turn, Ceridwen turned herself into a greyhound. Gwion transformed himself into an fish, so Ceridwen followed suit by making herself an otter. This continued for a bit…until Gwion made himself a grain of corn and Ceridwen in the form of a hawk ate him up and became pregnant with Gwion…The story goes on, but I will let you research that yourself.
For me, this story explains one of the greatest power a Witch can master; the power of shapeshifting. Now, I don’t mean literal shapeshifting, I mean the ability to merge with the inner power of something. For example, when we say that we “shall go into a hare,” what we are saying is that we are attuning ourselves with the energies of the hare. The same thing happens with a Witch aspects a archetype of the God or Goddess. When we do this, we are merging ourselves with another power and allowing ourselves to make use of the attributes that other power has.
This myth also speaks of transformation, another great power of a Witch. When we work magic, we are transforming our world in accordance with our will. In many ways, the practice of magic, transforms that Witch.