Traditional Witchcraft

Houzle, or Housle, (from Housel) also called The Red Meal, is a term used by certain groups to describe an offering of sained (blessed) food (usually bread and wine) between brethren, the Gods and the Ancestors. Robert Cochrane used the term houzle to signify the bread & wine sacrament that was partaken in his Clan of Tubal-Cain.

The wine is blessed and passed to each member of the group or coven, the bread is broken up and also passed to each member eating and drinking from the left hand. After each has partaken of the meal the bread is then placed in the wine and each person's brow is anointed with the mix. The remainder is then offered to the ancestors and/or Gods and returned to the Earth. In some traditions the bread is first dipped in salt before being passed about.

The purpose of the Houzle is both as an offering and a tool to bring the Witch closer to the otherworld through the shared meal.

• The Red Meal is a ritualized sharing of bread and wine with Ancestors, Gods or Spirits of the land
• Breaking of bread symbolizes the rending of flesh, and moistening the bread with wine represents the blood issuing forth from the flesh, consumption of the the results in an exchange of spiritual essences with the God or Ancestors with whom the meal is shared
• The Red Meal can be performed after Treading the Mill, after Tapping the Bone, or simply as an act of gratitude, or as a spiritual contract with another entity.

1. Walk a counterclockwise circle or semi-circle around the place where you will be doing the Red Meal. This represents the "reversal" or taking the left-way road to the underworld, into the Unworld of spiritual connection and potential.

2. Ask the great Horned Master and Witchfather to bless a small pot or bowl of water, making it "full of grace and a road of the unseen powers", and then anoint with it, and sprinkle it around your area in the same manner that you walked it. Then light a lamp or candle or fire, asking the Secret Presence and Witchmother to make it "a powerful lamp and light to what is seen and unseen, and a great door to the otherness."

You can awaken any of these powers in your psyche focusing inwardly on a beautiful young man with goat's horns and the eyes of a goat, who walks towards you and emits light from between his eyes, and who begins to turn into a serpent, (for the Master Puck or Buccos, the Witchfather), focusing on a great white "Godly force" within all of nature that is ancient and dim and deep and all-pervasive (for the Horned Master, Vindonus), focusing on the fire itself and seeing a "fire" like it within a strange hollow place in all things (all forms, trees, animals, people, elements) and focusing on the idea of this fire within all as a seductive and watchful feminine spirit, who is somewhat feline-seeming (for the Secret Presence or Hyldor) or by focusing on a great, brooding dark void at the heart of everything, that everything sprang from and is sustained by at every moment, and feeling this dark void as dwelling within the ground and sky and waters and in all things- and feeling it as a great grandmotherly and stern force- the Witchmother or Old Fate. Either of these "male" figures can bless the water, and either of these "females" can bless the fire- or both can be called on for each.

3. Ring the bell- ringing its sound to the ears of the powers you are sharing the Red Meal with. If this is all the invocation you need, then continue. If not, then invoke them, using your own words, or with one of the invocation techniques we will discuss later.

4. Say the blessing for the bread, with your left hand held over it:

“Here is bread, the life of the Earth,
Blessed to give us life and strength.
I consecrate it in the name of_____
With my left hand I bless it
With my left hand I shall eat it.”

4. Ring the bell again, (you don’t have to re-invoke if you already succeeded at that) and say, for the Wine, while lifting the cup:

“Here is wine, filling the cup with abundance
I consecrate it in the name of ______
With my left hand I lift it,
With my left hand I shall drink it.”

Holding the cup in your left hand still, bring it near your lips, and say

“I drink this cup in my Lady’s name: She shall gather me home again.”

Then drink a little. Everyone who shares from the cup should say the same, holding the cup with their left hand, before they drink.

After you (or everyone gathered) has shared from the cup, everyone should eat a piece of the bread- tear or cut it apart, making enough pieces for everyone. As you bring the piece of bread, held with your left hand, near your lips, you should say:

“I eat this bread in the unknown name, for fear and care, and want of Him.”

Then eat.

The rest of the wine should be poured into the same bowl or dish containing the remains of the bread, mixing the two together, and each person who is at the gathering should dip their finger in the mixture and anoint their head with it. If the area that the Red Meal is being performed in needs to be consecrated or blessed, the wine inside the bowl can be sprinkled around it, and objects can likewise be blessed with the same sprinkling.

When that is done, the bowl with the remainder of the bread and wine should be held up by the person leading the Red Meal. He or She says the Declaration of Giving:

“As some is taken, so is this given
By the sons and daughters of the family of the Old Faith
I give it to the Ground (1)
I give it to the Pale People below (2)
That above and below will become one (3)
For what is taken is truly given
And what is given is truly taken
The day and night are wed
As the living and the dead.
Here is shown a mystery.”

Notes to this declaration:

1. If you are indoors, you say “I give it to the ground”, and after the rite, you bring it outside. If you are outside on a field or meadow, you say “I give it to the ground” or “I give it to the Land”. If you are before a huge old Oak tree, you say “I give it to the roots” or “I give it to the Tree”; if you are at a body of water, you say “I give it to the stream” or “I give it to the lake”, or whatever. If you are making the offering at a stone, like an ancient standing stone, or an offering-stone, you say “I give it to the stone”… just use common sense here. No matter what, the red meal’s remains HAVE to reach the earth, the Land, or the water, in some way. That is how they will ‘Pass below and within’ to reach the powers and “complete the circle” of the meal. This is a Tithe to the Underworld.

2. The standard declaration says “I give it to the Pale People below”- but if you wish, you can declare that you are giving it to any power- if the Red Meal was done for a deceased relative, you can say that you give it to that person; if it was done as a devotion to the White Lord of Elfhame, you can say “I give it to Lord Vindonus” or “I give it to the Old One”; it can be given to any power- “I give it to my familiar spirit” is also an option. But remember, even if you did the Red Meal for a relative or for a certain power or powers, you can still say “I give it to the Pale People below” here- it’s just a matter of how you feel, how inclusive you want to feel.

3. The standard “request” for the meal is that the powers in the Unseen make you whole- that “above and below”, or, in other words, “This world and the unseen world” become one- the basic message of the Red Meal. However, this Meal can be used for specific purposes that go beyond that, and turn this offering into a form of magic. To make an example, imagine that you did the Red Meal outside before an Oak tree, to the White Horned King specifically, to have him send you a dream of guidance, to help you through a difficult situation. You could say, in the declaration: “As some is taken, so is this given, by this son of the family of the old faith… I give it to the Roots of this tree, I give it to the Horned Master, that he might send dreams to guide me, in my time of need… for what is taken is truly given, etc.” But the ‘standard form” of the Red Meal merely requests that above and below be made as one.

After the declaration is made, the bowl or plate containing the remaining bread and wine mixed is poured onto the ground, or onto the roots, or the stone, or into the water, wherever. That is the end of the Rite.