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The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse

The Enchanted Sex-Word of Scotland’s Secret Seduction Society


Seduction, the most noble art. History books across the planet reveal the carnal activities of an endless number of femme-fatals, causing nations to collapse and dynasties to crumble. In Ancient Greek culture the relationship between persuasion and love (or desire) was so important that a goddess, Peitho, personified ‘persuasion’ and ‘seduction’. Medieval myths tell romantic tales of courtly love and innocent virgins being won with flattery, favours and sometimes jousting. Just beneath the surface however, these stories talk of the primal social movements of men, who since the dawn of time have tried every trick in the book to get laid.

The game has always been played on a pitch full of hazards and hurdles which men have always fought to overcome: 1. be noticed in the crowd. 2. make a woman feel special 3. Win that woman's trust. 4. Ultimately, get that woman to bed. But imagine a magic word that when whispered into the ear of any woman, it teleported you from hurdle 1 to 4 in an instant. Well there was one…

A sorceress in seduction

A sorceress in seduction (public domain)

Scotland’s Enchanted Seduction Word

From Abracadabra to the now famous spells of Harry Potter, magic words are no longer the reserve of pagans, alchemists, witches, occultists and secret societies. The magical words and spells of ancient Scandinavia, the Hispano-Arabic magic of Spain and the traditions passed down from ancient Egypt, were presented by scholar Claude Lecouteux in his 2015 book Dictionary of Ancient Magic Words and Spells From Abraxas to Zoar. He reveals, “often the more impenetrable they seem, the more effective they are” and having been passed down from ancient Babylon, Egypt, and Greece, these words and the rituals surrounding them have survived through the millennia because they work.

Detail, "The Sorceress" by John William Waterhouse. Public Domain; The ‘magic word’, Abracadabra

Detail, "The Sorceress" by John William Waterhouse. Public Domain; The ‘magic word’, Abracadabra, Wikimedia Commons. Deriv.

A powerful magic word existed in 17th century Scotland, and still does in the remote North Highlands, that was believed to be so psychologically and psychically powerful that when whispered into any woman's ear they instantly become overwhelmed with carnal desires and a pressing need to orgasm. The word was highly-guarded by a quasi-Masonic secret society that since the mid-17th century has only accepted membership from men involved with training horses in Scotland’s rural communities. The Horseman's Word was a highly mystical secret society which developed and protected a deeply esoteric system of agrarian-rituals, which revolved around the perceived magical powers of their secret word, which was said to have been given by the Devil himself. The earliest record of Scottish horsemen possessing a magical word, with supernatural seductive powers, was given by R.Davidson in 1664, in Renfrewshire, Southern Scotland.

Leather bound book on The Horseman’s Word

Leather bound book on The Horseman’s Word (

This highly-enchanted word enabled horsemen to "draw or jade" any horse rendering them immobile at will, which no power on earth could shift until the horseman himself released it." It was also believed to have the power to render women powerless and open to carnal suggestion and the seductive powers of horsemen were so ingrained in rural Scottish life that an unmarried girl made pregnant by a horseman using the magic word, was regarded with no disapproval because it was accepted that the ‘Word’ made her "incapable of withstanding the persuasion of her seducer.”

Trying to rationalise the magic of the Horsemen, but not for a second doubting the authenticity of their claims, author J.M. McPherson published his findings on the Society of Horsemen in his 1929 book Primitive Beliefs in the North-East of Scotland, in which he suggested it was "a survival of an ancient pagan cult that had been persecuted in the witch trials in the Early Modern period.” It was not.

Rise of The Magic Scottish Horsemen

During the early 19th century draft horses first replaced oxen in Aberdeen and the Moray Firth and then the ponies of Caithness and Orkney in the north. Those men who could control horses began commanding well paid and respectable work and according to esoteric author Ben Fernee "The ploughmen did not own the land, the horses, the harness, the ploughs or their homes but they took control of the new technology, the horses, and ensured that only a brother of the Society of the Horseman's Word might work them... unmarried ploughmen lived hard lives, drank hard, played rough and chased women.”

The Horseman's Word operated as a form of early trade union which protected the secrets of the growing number of men who worked with draft horses in north-eastern Scotland. The society ensured its members maintained a high standard of training and it defended them against the more powerful, and often unfair, land-owners. Between the 17th and 19th century a distinct hierarchy existed among farm-servants of which ploughmen and horsemen were at the top. Halflins were trainee horsemen of which the best joined the ranks of the Society of the Horseman's Word, membership of which conferred three direct benefits - the inner-secrets of managing horses and women, and a "man's pay.”

Old photographs of horses and farm workers in North Fife, Scotland
Old photographs of horses and farm workers in North Fife, Scotland

Old photographs of horses and farm workers in North Fife, Scotland

During the nineteenth century, Scottish farmers migrated south and leased farms in north eastern England and The Horseman's Word was anglicised into the 'Society of Horsemen'. The skills of controlling farm animals had been attributed to both witches and ‘cunning folk’ in English folk tradition, and such as the American James Samuel Rare were commonly known as "horse whisperers", a term that had been brought to England from Ireland in the early nineteenth century.

The Inner Secrets of the Horsemen

The Society of the Horseman's Word was structurally and ritually similar to Freemasonry in that new members were initiated in a highly-guarded ritual/ceremony and given a series of secret signs and grips by which members could identify one and another in public. When horses were finally replaced by tractors in the early 20th century, the horsemen's rituals jigsawed perfectly with the pseudo-Biblical history of Freemasonry and their initiation ritual was amalgamated into some Scottish Masonic Lodges, especially in Orkney and in north east Scotland.

Many members of the society have revealed that the horsemen's secret powers were actually obtained from the preparation of herbs and oils, which were attractive to both horses and women Billy Rennie, from Stuartfield, near Peterhead, is a member of the Society of the Horseman’s Word and recently stated "It wasn't the ‘Word’ that really gave the horsemen their ‘magical’ power, but a knowledge handed down through history...using various herbs and potions, the horsemen could make the wildest of horses follow him without halter of bridle, and make it so that the horses would not leave the stables without him." 

The horsemen's knowledge of persuasive oils is said to have come from the folklore of The Fens of East Anglia and Lincolnshire in England and the mysterious "Toadmen". The Toadmen's initiation ritual involved catching and drying male toads before throwing their carcasses into running streams under full moons, where all the bones would all be swept downstream, except one, a small fork-shaped bone similar in shape to a horses hoof which swirled against the current, apparently going up-stream, and became the agent of the horsemen's magical powers.

The Toadmen's ritual finds its origins in ancient India where Vedic high priests wrapped frogs in white linen and gave them astrological benedictions before putting them under ant hills at sunset. After the ants had stripped the flesh two bones were kept, one to attract a desired object and the other to reject it. The latter was called 'the shovel' and was the supra-scapula bone of the frog. The frogs wish-bone, the one revered by the horsemen was the ilium, the chief bone in the frog’s pelvic girdle.

Left: The frog’s pelvic girdle resembles part of a horse’s hoof. Right: The Ilium bone in a frog’s pelvic girdle.

Left: The frog’s pelvic girdle resembles part of a horse’s hoof. Right: The Ilium bone in a frog’s pelvic girdle.

Records pertaining to the inner-workings of the Society of the Horseman's Word can be found in The Ancient Ritual of the Buchan Ploughmen Incorporated with the Antient Horsemen (transmitted by W. M. Rennie 2003). Halflins were initiated in the dead of night, in secret, generally beginning in a ritually enhanced barn and similar to Freemasonry, candidates were blindfolded and led through the ritual by a mentor. The ritual ended at the centre of a field where the candidate shook hands with Auld Nick (The Devil) and gripped a cloven hoof. After taking an oath to keep society matters secret, to treat horses kindly and to keep the Horseman's Word secret, his blindfold was finally removed and he was given the Word - as three words - "Both As One." 


Both As One is a linguistically rich and carefully structured term that can be interpreted in several ways, for example: it can mean the act of holding two reigns in one hand, to control a horse. Or it can be taken as meaning to have control over both horses and women. Personally, I think the horsemen applied the classic psychological trick - autosuggestion - and polished their own seduction myth so deeply into rural society, that women were ‘half-seduced’ before even hearing the word. And the fact that one horseman's trick to “activate a lazy horse with a frog bone” required “jamming it” into the soft part of a horses upper-inner leg, is very revealing, supporting my conclusion that the Horsemen were Scotlands first organised society of professional pickup artists who had mastered the oldest game on the planet - seduction.

Top image: The Sorceress by John William Waterhouse (public domain)

By Ashley Cowie

Ashley Cowie is an author, researcher, explorer, film-maker and blogger about lost cultures and kingdoms, ancient crafts and arts, the origins of legends and myths, architecture, iconography, artefacts and treasures. Visit



Fantasy. Does this site never tire of CLICKBAIT?

Oh, btw, Renfrew is not in Southern Scotland, it's in Central Scotland. Always has been. It's like saying New York is in the south of the States. Not even the most basic checks done as usual.

IF the author cannot actually produce this word, he is surely not entitled to write about it. When he writes the word here, we shall all know it. Knowing it women will become immune, a good idea!

So essentially we're talking about the magical equivalent of a date rape drug and the Horseman's Word was the 17th century Scottish version of a pickup artist website.

ashley cowie's picture


Ashley is a Scottish historian, author, and documentary filmmaker presenting original perspectives on historical problems in accessible and exciting ways.

He was raised in Wick, a small fishing village in the county of Caithness on the north east coast of... Read More

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