Wicca & The Art of Motorcycle Maintenance
by David Wadsworth
(This article first appeared in Children of Sekhmet, May 1988. It was
originally given by Dave as a talk at a Wiccan Workshop organised by
Chris and Vivianne Crowley in 1987)
This talk aims to illustrate the all-pervading nature of Wicca. If a
system of natural laws or beliefs is true, it can be applied to
virtually anything. I intend to try and apply parts of Wiccan beliefs
to my other passion, biking.
There is a peculiar sort of bonding between a real biker and his
machine. The biker will put the well-being of his machine far above
his own. I have seen men cry over a bent bike, or after an accident
tell the driver off for hitting his bike rather than him. I have
personally fought off two ambulence men so that I could hop to my bike
to inspect the damage before being taken to hospital. My theory for
this strange bond is that the motorcycle and rider form a sort of
Gestalt being, a conplete entity, either part of which is incomplete
or useless without the other.
The motorcycle represents the male part of this entity. It provides
all the force and power, but lacks control and direction. It is all
potential, in Wiccan terms, the God force, waiting for the female
aspect, the Goddess, in the form of a horrible grubby motorcycle
rider. The rider takes the force and harnesses it, giving purpose,
form and direction. Controlling the raw male potential, and together,
in harmony, they will be capable of reaching heights impossible to
either on their own.
The motorcycle can be seen as a way through which to tap a source of
cosmic energy. The energy which we in the Wicca use for healing,
spells, divination, as a gateway to alternative universes. Just as a
witch wouldn't attempt to tap this awesome power without protection,
neither would a biker. The biker will put on boots, gloves, helmet and
leathers in a similar sort of way as a member of the Craft would
surround themselves with a protective circle to preserve the power and
keep out undesirable spirits. In the biker's case he is also aiming to
keep in the heat, and protect him from the road, onto which demon car
drivers possessed of evil spirits (gin, vodka, whiskey etc.) would
lure him to his death!
This brings us neatly (?) to the subject of reincarnation. Most of you
reading this will have some knowledge of the ideas of reincarnation;
i.e. that we are born, live in the world, die, and are then reborn to
develop further. Not many of you will realise that motorcycles go
through a similar process. They leave the factory to roam about the
face of the earth, then some parts wear out, and they descend into the
dark underworld of the workshop. Here they are consoled and repaired
by the creative force of the female, who is the biker, to emerge
re-born in Spring, once more blooming with refreshed colour of res-
tored paintwork, and the cycle starts again. Many British machines go
through this every year. About Yule they are ready, and in the first
days of Spring they roar about in the first flush of youth. Then at
the peak of their power, at Lammas, they are cut down, usually due to
some terminal mechanical problem. They dwell for the remainder of the
year in Hades, the garage, thus mirroring the cycle of the God.
The spirituality of bikes is perceived by man in different forms, and
each has its followers. Here are some of the major religions:
This newcomer to the spiritual motorcycle rides a modern Japanese
bike. He pays little more than lip service to his religion. He has
few rituals, all he has to do is turn the key and start the starter
engine. He tends to be into power and speed, tearing past older
machines which he regards with contempt. He cares little for the inner
workings of the machine, running to his priest/mechanic whenever he
has a problem. Should his machine pass on, i.e., wear out, it will
believed to be irreparable, i.e., too expensive, and gone to the great
scrap heap in the sky. The makers of this are the great salesmen and
evangelists of the bike, not to mention the profit makers.
He will typically be an older bearded gentleman, who rides an immacu-
late old British motorcycle. They are into status, and will pootle
along at 40 mph all day, imagining themselves the envy of all who see
them. They are into ritual and mystery. The performance required to
summon some older bikes into life is awesome and dangerous. Yet these
fellows will watch in silence as a machine spits at a new initiate and
breaks his shin. They will endlessly pontificate on the correct shade
of colour for the petrol tank, or whether a part is the right year for
the model; mostly that's all they do.
The bike will most likely be filthy, not from lack of care, but from
constant use in all sorts of conditions. The rider knows and under-
stands the inner workings of his machine, its every click and whistle.
He relies on no guru for his understanding, he is not afraid to try
things out and see if it works. Not for him the search for power or
acclaim. He is just out to explore the universe and glean its myster-
ies. He will get there in the end, there's plenty of time. He will
rebuild bikes time after time, not sticking to rigid formulae, but
with whatever comes to hand. he enjoys his bike and is in-tune with
As a biker-witch, I am now going to use two useful tools to explain my
theory of Life, the Universe and Everything: i.e., the Kaballah and
the four-stroke cycle.
Firstly the act of invocation and the four-stroke cycle. For those of
you who are not mechanically minded, I'll try and keep this simple.
Officially the four-stroke cycle is referred to as Induction,
Compression, Power and Exhaust. I prefer the much more evocative Suck,
Squeeze, Bang, Blow. There are a few parts that really matter: the
crank shaft, the con rod, the piston and the inlet plus exhaust
1) Suck: Initially the piston is at the top and both valves are
closed. As the crank shaft turns, the inlet valve opens, the con rod
pulls the piston down which draws air and fuel in. At this point in an
invocation, the invoker is opening his chakras and drawing the cosmic
energy which surrounds us into his body.
2) Squeeze: The crank shaft continues around, the inlet valve shuts,
and the piston is pushed up, squeezing tha gases together. This is
when the invoker says the invocation and passes the power to the
3) Bang: The fuel/air mixture ignites and pushes the piston down. The
priest/ess takes on the aspect of God/dess being invoked.
4) Blow: The exhaust valve opens and the piston pushes the charge into
the exhaust pipe. The God/dess charges and shares his/her power with
And now - motorcycles on the Tree of Life:
Kether - traditionally the godhead from which all energy flows. It is
formless. This is the high tension spark which ignites the fuel and
without which the bike is naught.
Chokmah - Formless, directionless energy, raw untamed power. In the
engine this is the burning fuel mixture.
Binah - this takes the raw force and starts organising and forming it.
The piston, conrod and crankshaft takes the power of the expanding
and converts it to rotary motion.
Chesed - Takes the potential energy of Binah, gives it order, and
makes it more solid and usable. In the engine, the gearbox and final
drive take the power from the crank shaft and make it usable to the
Geburah - An essential breaking down. Where there is life, there must
be death. In an engine when you have got two lumps of metal thrashing
about in violent motion, they must wear each other away.
Tiphareth - This is the image of the godhead, the wayshower, Lucifer,
Prince of Light. In the bike this is represented by the electrical
system and the ignition system, and the lights, which on British
machines are provided by Joe Lucas, Prince of Darkness!
Netzach - This is the spirit of nature, intuition and sexuality. This
is more concerned with what bikers do. They are in tune with nature
and tend to get drawn to ancient sites, eg Stonehenge, Avebury and
Wayland Smithy, or just standing around in a muddy field communing
with nature and the local brewery. This is also the source of the
sexual bond between man and machine.
Hod - Communication, intellect and travel. It is also where your will
produces power. The travelling aspect of motorcycles is fairly ob-
vious, and hordes of despatch riders fulfil the communication role.
This is where we get the knowledge of the workings of the bike. It
definitely takes Hodic willpower on a cold, wet morning, along with
highly verbal expletives, leaping up and down on the kickstart to get
the bugger moving.
Yesod - This is the lunar aspect of biking, linked to Tiphareth on the
Middle Pillar (refer Joe Lucas, Prince of Darkness). Many bikers will,
by the light of the Full Moon, switch their lights off and ride by
moonlight in their lunatic hunt for the local hostellry. In the event
of a biker meeting his death through this ridiculous activity, look
into the sky. For there you will espy, on his silver machine, the
spirit of the biker riding across the astral heavens. Scientists tend
to think these are meteors. There is also the illusion of security one
gets from riding around with one's head in a goldfish bowl, collo-
quially known as a blood bucket.
Malkuth - The concrete world, reality. On a bike you are cold, wet,
tired, frequently uncomfortable, and very vulnerable, and no-one in
their right mind would do it if it wasn't for something else......
Despite Malkuth, biking opens up other realms, other worlds (Birmi-
ngham, London, Glasgow, etc) and puts you in tune with the inner and
Next: Greek and Roman Deities (Thomas Palmer)